Hades and Eternal Punishment

FOREWORD

Everyone admits the extraordinary character of the times in which we live. Things never questioned a few years ago are now openly scouted. Truths, once reverenced, are thrown by many on the scrap heap with a light heart.

A good deal is said nowadays about thinking men, but in truth there is little depth of thought at the present time with the majority. People generally believe what is agreeable to them, rejecting what is not. Unbelief is in the air. Infidelity is in the pulpit and the pew, in the theological chair, and even in our nursery books. This sowing of doubt and unbelief is bearing a terrible harvest of infidelity, lawlessness and wickedness.

The day is gone by when anything can be taken on credit. We must either be swept away by the rising tide of religious unbelief, or stand against it. Our belief must be based on the Word of God, and not be dependent on what Pope or Cardinal, Bishop or Priest, Minister or Pastor, this Christian teacher or that leading brother may say, though we should look for help through gifts given by the ascended Lord to His Church.

All this—if we stand the test—leads to robustness of conviction, moral fibre and spiritual vigour.

Alas! the unthinking multitudes are being carried at frightful speed into the arms of open apostasy. Thank God for those who, seeing the withering blight of Higher Criticism and New Theology all around them, only strike the roots of their faith deeper into the Word of God, and find in it the stay and comfort which they need.

It is to help honest enquirers, the young and unestablished, who are feeling keenly the difficulties of the times; the waverers, who are discovering they have insufficient knowledge on these subjects, that we seek grace to pen these lines. Our appeal will be to the Scriptures. We shall go to them with open mind, and by God’s grace hold to what they teach.

Seeing that the Bible claims for itself inspiration, there is no logical ground between receiving its teachings or rejecting them. There can be no middle ground. Either the Bible is inspired or it is not. But the Scriptures have so many overwhelming proofs of their divine origin, of authority and inerrancy—though this is not the place to enlarge upon the theme, happy and profitable as it is—that we have no hesitation in bowing without a question to their teaching.

In all the solemn questions before us we can only heartily and reverently re-echo the grand words of Abraham,
  “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25).

We are not surprised at the state of things around us. Scripture tells us of “the mystery of iniquity,” and that nearly two thousand years ago it was already working. Scripture is being fulfilled to the letter under our very eyes. On every hand signs are as thick as falling leaves in autumn blasts. They foretell the imminence of “the day of the Lord. We are indeed in “the last days.”

May the following pages be greatly blessed to many is the writer’s earnest prayer.

HADES and Eternal Punishment

How do we know there is a heaven? Our only source of information is the Bible. We cannot logically receive the revelation of heaven without receiving all that the Bible teaches, and the Bible as clearly tells us there is a hell.

Our belief in the one stands on precisely the same ground as our belief in the other.

We cannot be consistent in believing there is a heaven, and at the same time refuse to believe there is a hell. We must believe in both, or disbelieve in both.

  “To the law and the prophets” then. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves.

To clear our ground it will be necessary to go step by step carefully over Scriptures bearing on this subject.

At the outset we may say that appeals to Hebrew and Greek* often cover gross ignorance of, and crafty attacks on, the Word of God.
{*It will be necessary in this pamphlet to refer to Hebrew and Greek words. The reader can verify these, even if he is quite unlearned in those languages, by the help of Young’s Analytical Concordance. We do well to mistrust appeals to Hebrew and Greek, unless the means of verifying them are available.}

For instance, we heard the late self-styled “Pastor” Russell tell nearly a thousand hearers that the Hebrew word, Sheol, means the grave. It means no such thing. And yet hundreds of unthinking people believed his statement because it was palatable to them. One of his hearers—a thoroughly worldly man—exclaimed with delight that he would liberally subscribe to the funds of the cause for it made a man comfortable to feel there was no hell.

The late Mr. W.E.Gladstone, commenting on the denial of an eternal hell, said:
  “What is this but to emasculate all the sanctions of religion, and to give to wickedness already under too feeble restraint a new range of licence?”

We cannot begin our enquiry better than by considering the meaning of the word, Sheol.

Two words are largely translated ‘grave’ in the Old Testament.
  1. Qeber—grave, sepulchre, i.e., a locality.
  2. Sheol—the state of disembodied souls, i.e., a condition.

  Qeber is always rightly translated grave or burying place.
  Sheol is never rightly translated grave.

QEBER

Qeber is translated ‘grave’ thirty-four times; ‘sepulchre,’ twenty-six times; ‘burying place,’ four times; in short it is always translated by the word ‘grave’ or its equivalents. Seeing that man, from the earliest times, had been sadly familiar with the grave, references to such would obviously present no difficulty to the translator. Qeber means the grave and nothing else. This is undisputed.

SHEOL

Sheol is translated ‘hell’ thirty-one times; ‘pit’ three times; ‘grave’ thirty-one times. In the case of qeber the translators give us the same word or its equivalents throughout. Why do they not do the same with sheol? They render it ‘grave’ thirty-one times and ‘hell’ thirty one times. On the face of it, it cannot be rendered by two words so dissimilar in meaning. If grave means the place of interment for bodies without souls, and sheol the condition of souls without bodies; they are no more interchangeable than if the same word were translated London and lunacy. London is a place. Lunacy is a condition.

In giving Scripture on this important point, we shall find in every case locality is connected with qeber, and never condition; and condition with sheol, and never locality.
  Qeber occurs in the plural twenty-seven times.
  Sheol never occurs in the plural.

  The burial of five hundred bodies in a cemetery means many graves.
  The entrance of five hundred disembodied souls into eternity means only one condition.

  Qeber is referred to as the EXCLUSIVE qeber, or grave, of an individual.
  Sheol is never spoken of as the EXCLUSIVE sheol of any individual. It is plain that one condition, viz. that of being disembodied, is common to all who have died. To illustrate this, we adduce the following Scriptures:

  Qeber occurs in the plural twenty-seven times.
  Sheol never occurs in the plural.

  Qeber is spoken of as “my grave” (Gen. 1:5); “a grave” (Num. 19:6); “grave of Abner” (2 Sam. 3:32); “his own grave” (1 Kings 13:30); “thy grave” (2 Chron. 34:28); “their graves” (Jer. 8:1); etc., etc.
  Sheol is thirty-one times wrongly translated “grave”, but in each case without exception it should be translated “the grave.” It is never translated “my grave,” “a grave,” “his grave,” etc., etc. Now if sheol had meant grave it would, like qeber, possess these variations, but it does not. The reason is very obvious. Sheol does NOT mean grave, it is wrongly translated thus.

  Qeber has geographical position assigned to it. “A burying place of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre” (Gen. 1:13); “No graves in Egypt” (Ex. 14:11); “In Zelah in the sepulchre of Kish” (2 Sam. 21:14); “the city of my fathers’ sepulchres” (Neh. 2:5); “I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israel” (Ezek. 39:11).
  Sheol has no geographical position assigned to it. A condition has no geography.

  Qeber is spoken of in relation to the body going into it, “And he laid his carcase in his own grave” (1 Kings 13:30); “they cast the man [that is his dead body] into the sepulchre of Elisha” (2 Kings 13:21); “The slain that lie in the grave” (Psalm 88:5); “Cast his dead body into the graves of the common people” (Jer. 26:23).
  Sheol is never spoken of in relation to the body. The reason is obvious. It has no relation to it. It has to do only with the soul.

  Qeber is spoken of as a possession on this earth, just as we may own a house or a field. “A possession of a burying-place” (Gen. 23:4); “a possession: of a burying-place” (Gen. 24:9); “a possession of a burying-place” (Gen. 23:20).
  Sheol is never so spoken of. We cannot possess a condition. We can have no title-deeds to a condition.

  Qeber can be dug or made. “In my grave which I have digged for me” (Gen. 50:5); “I will make thy grave” (Neh. 1:14).
  Sheol is never said to be dug or made.

A seeming exception to the above only serves to emphasize the truth of what has been shown. In connection with the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram we read:
  “If the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick [that is alive] into the pit [sheol]; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord” (Num. 16:30).

The new thing referred to is very obvious here. The bodies of the rebels found interment through the earth opening her mouth and swallowing them up. But it may be urged they went “down quick into the pit,” language which seems to be applicable to the “grave.”

A little further on we shall refer to the word “down” in this connection. As to the word “into” we can speak of an individual going into death, who may never be in the grave at all. The moment a man dies he is in death, though the body has generally to wait some hours or days before being placed in the grave. “In” or “into” can apply to a condition equally with a locality. We may add that the word “quick” does not refer to the suddenness of the act, but means they went down living into sheol.

So far we have been looking at sheol in relation to what it is not, that it is not the grave. Let us now examine Scripture to see what it stands in relation to.

  Sheol for the wicked is connected with pain and sorrow. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell [sheol]” (Deut. 32:22). “The sorrows of hell [sheol] compassed me about (2 Sam. 22:6). “The pains of hell [sheol] gat hold upon me” (Ps. 116:3).
  Qeber is never connected in this way with judgment and sorrow. The body in the grave is unconscious and cannot feel pain or experience sorrow. A conscious entity, the soul, in the condition of sheol can experience such things.

  Sheol is always connected with the soul, never with the body. “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [sheol]” (Ps. 16:10). “Thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell [sheol]” (Ps. 86:13).
  Qeber is never connected with the soul, but always with the body, as we have already seen.

  Sheol is connected with distress such as is evidenced by crying aloud with the voice. “Out of the belly of hell [sheol] cried I, and thou heardest my voice” (Jon. 2:2).
  Qeber has no such thought connected with it. A dead body cannot cry aloud or experience distress.

Sheol is connected with the thought of going down.

  “I will go down into the grave [sheol] unto my son mourning” (Gen. 37:35). This thought is expressed in several other passages. Evidently the thought of going down is an acknowledgment of the judgment of God in death. These things were only dimly known in the Old Testament times.

But that it cannot mean here the grave is evident from the fact that in the Scripture just quoted, Jacob, believing his son Joseph was dead and deceived by the appearance of his son’s coat of many colours dyed red in blood, exclaimed, “Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces,” He therefore had not the slightest hope of his own body being put in his son’s grave when he did not believe it existed at all.

A similar thought is involved when Samuel said to Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me” (1 Sam. 28:19). That could not mean the grave, for Samuel knew that warriors slain on the field of battle are not generally buried on the same day, if at all. As to Saul’s body, the Philistines did not find it till the day after his death or two days after his interview with Samuel. They cut off his head and sent it into their land on show fastening his body on the walls of Beth-shan. Some time must have elapsed before the inhabitants of Jabesh-Gilead heard of this. They travelled all night, secured the bodies of Saul and his sons and returned with them to Jabesh and burnt them there.

Moreover, Samuel was buried at Ramah and the bones of Saul and his sons were interred at Jabesh-Gilead; therefore it is clear that Samuel did not mean the grave when he said, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.”

How clear it is that Samuel recognized that the soul survived after death and knew the true meaning of sheol. He knew it in his own case, knew that it would be so in Saul’s, as of all who die.

Qeber is never connected in Scripture with the thought of going down. Of course, as a matter of fact, dead bodies do go down into the grave, hence it is all the more significant that Scripture never uses the expression in regard to qeber but does in connection with sheol, conveying most assuredly a moral idea in regard to a condition.

Sheol is connected with the thought of desire, etc. “Who enlarges his desire as hell [sheol]” (Hab. 2:5).

Qeber has no such thought connected with it. But, it may be urged, ‘Does it not say, “There is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave [sheol]” (Ecc. 9:10)?’ Yes, but this is NOT revelation but the inspired record of what Solomon summed up as to his knowledge of things “under the sun.” Solomon was looking at things as they affected his work and knowledge and wisdom in connection with the affairs of this life, and such things do not go beyond this life in the experience of persons alive on the earth.

Let us now turn to the New Testament, and follow up the equivalents of qeber and sheol there, and we shall find exactly the same rules apply to them.

  MNĒMEION (Greek) = QEBER (Hebrew), grave, sepulchre, a locality.
  HADES (Greek) = SHEOL (Hebrew), the state of disembodied souls, i.e., a condition.

In the New Testament, as in the Old, there is no difficulty as to the word ‘grave’.

Let us first see the Greek equivalent in the Septuagint for the Hebrew word sheol. The Septuagint is the name of the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek completed by the Jews of Alexandria and so called because it is said to be the work of seventy translators employed by Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt about 280 B.C.

Out of sixty-five times in which the word ‘sheol’ occurs in the Hebrew, the Septuagint renders it ‘hades’ on all but four occasions. Twice it is translated ‘thanatos’, the Greek word for death; twice it has no equivalent.

Not ONCE do they translate it grave. Does this not prove they had a much clearer idea of the meaning of the word sheol than our English translators, who wrongly translated it grave thirty-one times, and that in spite of its having no plural or locality, and the fact that they had translated it thirty-one times by another totally different word, ‘hell’.

But this is a matter of translation, of more or less weight. Let us come to the New Testament. Scripture itself decides the question authoritatively for us. Compare the following Old Testament Scripture with the New Testament quotation:
  “Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell [sheol] neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” (Ps. 16:10).
  “Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell [hades]; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:27).

This puts the matter beyond dispute. Scripture itself settles the point for us.

A further remark must be made here before we proceed, or else the enquirer will be expecting help from the wrong quarter.

There is no such revelation of the unseen state in the Old Testament as is found in the New. “Life and immortality [literally, incorruptibility]” are distinctly said to be brought “to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). The time arrived for God to make a fuller revelation on this solemn subject consequent on the death of His blessed Son which met all His righteous claims and put man under a deeper responsibility than before.

It is not that the Old Testament is not as fully inspired of God as the New. The Old is of EQUAL INSPIRATION AND AUTHORITY with the New, but God has been pleased to make a fuller revelation on these subjects in the New. It is emphatically not a question of evolution but of revelation.

The reader may be warned to treat with grave suspicion writers who, whilst presenting a large array of texts from the Old Testament, principally drawn from Job and Ecclesiastes, fail to give adequate testimony from the New. He will find that such writers treat the partial revelation God in His unerring wisdom has given in the Old Testament as the final word to be said on the subject. They likewise often mistake the inspired record for revelation whilst ignoring the fuller revelation of the New Testament.

Ecclesiastes is much quoted by unsound writers in this way. For instance, how often is the following passage quoted to prove that at death the soul sleeps and becomes unconscious:
  “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten” (Eccl. 9:5).

But the following verse, which explains the point of view of the writer, as of the whole book indeed, is generally not quoted:
  “Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy is now perished; neither have they any more a, portion for ever in any thing that is done UNDER THE SUN” (Eccl. 9:6).

The writer here speaks of what is “under the sun.” As far as he knows the dead know nothing of what had interested them when alive in the environments of this life.

Ecclesiastes is a profoundly interesting and helpful book, but it must not be approached as divine revelation, but as the inspired record of the summing up by human wisdom of the problems of life and death, while here and there Solomon shows that he possesses a glimmering light of what is beyond, God-given of course.

He was at once the wisest and richest of men, He had the greatest opportunities of gratifying himself, guided by a maximum of human wisdom yet he made a terrible mess of his life and stands as a proof that man must be controlled by the Spirit of God to be right in his spirit in relation to God and eternity.

His book is the marvellously clever wail of a disappointed man, for he begins by saying:
  “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2).

We repeat it is not divine revelation, but the divinely INSPIRED record of human doubts and disappointment.

That Solomon himself contradicts such an interpretation of Ecclesiastes 9:5 as that of soul-sleep is evident. He says:
  “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and, the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).

Is it too much to say that Solomon differentiates between the unconscious body in the grave and the conscious spirit in sheol or hades? We do not think so.

Let anyone examine candidly the theories of such anti-Christian systems as Millennial Dawnism, Seventh Day Adventism, Christadelphianism, Christian Science, and the like, and he will find the appeal in support of their speculations is mainly to the Old Testament, the books of Ecclesiastes and Job being largely drawn upon for this purpose and quite misunderstood by them.

The following statement by the late Mr. F.W.Grant in his monumental work, “Facts and Theories as to a Future State,” is illustrative of this trait. Reviewing Mr. Roberts’ book and exposing the Christadelphian fallacies contained therein, he writes:
  “Thus for his own views, out of over fifty passages produced, nine belong to the New Testament, and forty-seven to the Old. Whilst out of passages which he thinks might be adduced as against his views (though scanty in number) nine out of ten are from the New Testament . . . Really does it not seem a question between the Old Testament and the New?

  “It is not that; but still there is a tale these quotations tell, the moral of which will be found in 2 Timothy 1:10, where the Apostle tells us, that Christ ‘hath abolished death and brought life and incorruption [not immortality] to light through the GOSPEL.’

  “That means that these writers are groping for light amid the shadows of a dispensation where was yet upon this subject comparative darkness. They look at death as it existed before Christ had for the believer abolished it.

  “They look at life there where as yet it had not been ‘brought to light.’ No wonder if they stumble in the darkness they have chosen” (pp. 124-125).

And I am afraid in such cases they do not want the light, but impose upon their readers their own theories of darkness.

To return from this necessary digression: We have seen that sheol (Hebrew) and hades (Greek) are equivalent terms. Let us now consider the Scriptural testimony as to hades.

In the New Testament, hades is translated hell ten times and grave once. The passage where it is translated grave is:
  “O death, where is thy sting? O grave [hades], where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

Why the translators should translate it ten times hell and make one solitary exception is inexplicable. Probably they were influenced in this by a desire for elegance of language.

We shall now find that the same comparison that we found existing between qeber (Hebrew, grave) and sheol (Hebrew, disembodied soul-condition) exists between mnēmeion (Greek, grave) and hades (Greek, disembodied soul-condition).

  Mnēmeion occurs in the plural ten times.
  Hades never occurs in the plural.

  Mnēmeion is spoken of as the exclusive possession of an individual.
  Hades is never so spoken of.

  Mnēmeion is spoken of as “his [Joseph’s] own new tomb” (Matt. 27:60). “Laid it in a tomb” (Mark 6:29). “The sepulchres of the righteous” (Matt. 28:29).
  Hades never has such language used in connection with it. It is addressed, as we have seen, as “O grave (hades)”, but is never translated “a grave”, “his grave”, etc.

  Mnēmeion has a geographical position. “And came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city” (Matt. 27:53), proving the graves were in the vicinity of Jerusalem. “In the garden a new sepulchre” (John 19:41).
  Hades has no geographical position.

  Mnēmeion is spoken of in relation to the body going into it. “Behold the sepulchre, and how His body was laid” (Luke 23:55).
  Hades is never spoken of in relation to the body, for the obvious reason that it has no relation to it.

An apparent exception to this may be urged in that the rich man in hades is said to lift up his eyes. But the statement is symbolical and intended to express the thought that the soul is conscious after death and able to take cognisance of its surroundings. The Bible is full of such symbolism. For instance, God is a Spirit and therefore incorporeal. Yet we read of His “back parts,” His face, His eyes, His nostrils, His feet, His hands, etc., etc., all intended to convey definite thoughts in symbolic language. For instance, “The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (Ps. 34:15-16).

  Mnēmeion is spoken of as a possession on this earth, just as we may possess a house or a field. “And he laid it [the Lord’s body] in his own new tomb” (Matt. 27:60).
  Hades is never so spoken of.

  Mnēmeion can be dug or made. “And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock” (Matt. 27:60).
  Hades is never so spoken of.

Of course we could give further proof texts as to the above distinctions between grave and sheol in the Old Testament, and grave and hades in the New Testament, but enough has been pointed out to prove overwhelmingly that sheol, or hades, is not the grave.

Further, when it is a question of the grave, we necessarily expect much more evidence in the Old Testament than the New, for the reason that the Old Testament covers the history of man over a period of 4,000 years whilst the New Testament covers less than 70 years. The first writer of the Old Testament was separated from the last by over 1,000 years, whilst the first and last writers of the New Testament were separated by considerably less than 100 years.

Seeing then that sheol and hades are equivalent terms and that there is no dispute as to the word for ‘grave’, the evidence on the point is conclusive.

If any reader can after verifying this evidence still state that sheol or hades mean the grave, then I charge him with deliberate deception. He may have been deceived hitherto; from henceforth such a person would be a deceiver. Alas! we are not surprised to find such in the world, men lost to every sense of shame, for we read, “Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13).

An instance of this has just come to hand.

Can the reader wonder that we challenge the honesty of such a man as the late “Pastor” Russell of Millennial Dawn notoriety? An organ of his, Everybody’s Paper, was thrust into our letterbox since writing the above. Imagine our surprise and disgust when we read the unblushing statement, which surely he must have known to be utterly false: “Every educated minister now knows that the Hebrew word translated “hell” in the Old Testament Scriptures means the tomb—the state of death—the only hell that was known for four thousand years.”

Further, sheol or hades affects necessarily both saint and sinner. And as the body, lying in death (a condition) must in a general way be in the grave (a locality) so the soul, which is in hades (a condition) must be somewhere (a locality). Now Scripture tells us plainly where the souls of the Lord’s people are after the death of their bodies.

We read:
  “He [David] seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell [hades], neither His flesh did see corruption” (Acts 2:31).

The Lord’s spirit was in hades between the time of His death and His resurrection. He Himself asserted where His spirit would be and in doing so proved where the believer’s would be for He said to the dying thief:
  “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me IN PARADISE”* (Luke 23:43).
{* Some writers assert that hades is a locality, situated in the heart of the earth, one department being Paradise, the other the abode of the lost. But 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 is plain. “The third heaven,” that is, the immediate presence of God, is identified as “paradise,” thus settling the point as to where paradise is. The first heaven is the firmament, or expanse of Gen. 1, the place of the atmosphere that belts the earth, the place of the clouds; the second heaven is the vast space that contains our sun and planetary system, and reaching far beyond to the vast spaces containing the stars; whilst the third heaven is used to designate the dwelling-place of God.}

And Paul wrote:
  “We are willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8).

The soul of the Christian is then with Christ in bliss.

But the Lord likewise throws light upon the state of lost souls in hades. Most vividly does He contrast the state of the blessed with that of the lost.

  “The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell [hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.* And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:22-24).
{*The following extract from a well-known writer deserves consideration:
  “The rich man and Lazarus I am not free to regard as a parable, while having no controversy with those who so regard it. Not only is it not called a parable, but names are introduced, a thing without precedent in our Lord’s parables. I prefer to look at the rich man and Lazarus as actual characters, whose history in this world and beyond is solemnly traced by the Lord for the moral profit of men everywhere.”

The fact that our Lord describes the condition of the rich man after death in symbolic language, at least in part, in no way proves that he was not a real individual. Be it observed that all that is said of him and Lazarus in life is quite in keeping with actual occurrences.}

The Lord framed His discourse in a Jewish setting, suitable to His hearers—hence the symbolism—“Abraham’s bosom.” But the companionship of Abraham and the bliss of his condition were not symbolical. And just as plainly as Scripture tells us hades is for the believer a condition of BLISS, so does the Lord tell us that hades is for the unbeliever a condition of TORMENT. Can we believe the one statement and refuse the other? Surely not! How infinitely kind, because infinitely solemn, so that His hearers might escape such a doom, were the warnings the Lord gave when on earth.

The objector may say if the eyes and tongue are symbolical so must the torments and the flame be symbolical. We do not dogmatise on the point, but we would like to point out that the objection does not lessen the gravity of the situation one whit. For if physical torments are symbolical, we earnestly ask, ‘Of what are they symbolical?’ There is no answer but one. Physical torments, if symbolical, must be symbolical of spiritual torments. Torments affecting the body, if symbolical, must be symbolical of torments affecting the soul. Be that as it may, we do not dogmatise; the contention that the language is symbolical does not in the very least lessen or affect in the very slightest degree the seriousness of the warning for if the language be symbolic, the symbolism is chosen by none less a person than the Son of God, and He intended it to convey an adequate impression.

Is the symbolism terrible? The truth intended to be taught is terrible. Is the symbolism terrible? The warning is terrible. We implore you, reader, not to allow human reason or sentiment to take off the keen edge of the truth.

It is clear from Scripture where the soul of the believer goes after death, but we are not told where the soul of the lost goes. One can understand a parent taking a child to a new home explaining its locality and how pleasant the change will be. But one would not expect the police authorities, who arrest a man, and whose duty is to take him to prison and keep him secure till the assizes, to give themselves the trouble of telling their prisoner where the cell is situated in which he is to be incarcerated.

However, enough has been said to prove that hades is THE CONDITION of the souls of both saint and sinner after death, that the former are with Christ in bliss; the latter in a place of torment.

THE TRUTH AS TO “GEHENNA”

But now we must go a step further. A new word is introduced in the New Testament, a word not known in the Old Testament. It is introduced by the Lord Himself, a word of terrible import. It is the word gehenna.

Gehenna is translated ‘hell’ nine times and ‘hell fire’ three times. It is rightly translated hell, as we understand the word. It is never translated grave.

Both hades and gehenna are translated hell. To contrast the usage of the two words will help the enquirer as to the meaning of both.

Hades is a condition. This we have already clearly seen, and therefore there is no need to repeat the evidence.

Gehenna is a place. “Whole body . . . CAST INTO hell [gehenna]” (Matt. 5:29). “Two eyes . . . cast INTO hell fire [gehenna]” (Matt. 18:9). It is never said that the body is cast into hades.

Hades is temporary. “Death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14). This will be fully explained later.

Gehenna is eternal. “Two hands to go into hell [gehenna], into the fire that never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:43). Hades affects only the soul as we have seen. Gehenna affects both body and soul. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna]” (Matt. 10:28).

Hades is like the condition of the prisoner awaiting the assizes.

Gehenna is like the prison into which he is cast on judgment being passed.

Just as the grave is a locality for the dead body, so gehenna is the locality for the lost—body and soul.

Gehenna was the valley of Hinnom, literally ‘the valley of the groans of the children’. It was a deep, narrow gorge on the east side of Jerusalem. We read of King Ahaz:
  “Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen” (2 Chr. 28:3).

It is written of King Manasseh that:
  “He caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom” (2 Chr. 33:6).

But Manasseh’s godly grandson, King Josiah:
  “Defiled Topheth which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or daughter to pass through the fire to Molech” (2 Kings 23:10).

A writer says, “It was not till within less than thirty years of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, that the idol—the hideous ox-headed human figure of Moloch—and its accessories were swept away from the valley by the good Josiah and the place so defiled that it could never again be desecrated by the frightful worship. But so deeply had the horrors of the past printed themselves on the popular mind that henceforth the spot bore the name of Tophet—the abomination—the place to be spat upon; and in later times the very words Gehinnom—the Valley of Hinnom—slightly changed into gehenna became the common name for hell.”

After King Josiah had defiled the place it became the open sewer of the city. Fires were kept continually burning to consume the filth and impurity of the place. Worms fed on garbage out of reach of the fire. Vultures gloated in crowds over the horrid scene. Stenchful smoke rose continually from the valley.

Well might our Lord use it as an emblem of hell and stamp the usage of the word with the hallmark of His authority. But let it be carefully noted that the Lord, in speaking of gehenna, never referred to the place outside Jerusalem but used it to designate that place of eternal torment which is prepared for the devil and his angels and to which the impenitent will be consigned.

It is not a little remarkable that every time hell [gehenna] is spoken of, save once (see James 3:6), it is from the lips of the Son of God Himself. If it had been otherwise the critics would have cried out, “Paul spoke of gehenna, Peter spoke of gehenna, but Christ never did.”

All the same, what Paul and Peter and John wrote is of equal authority with what the Lord said—the source is the same, divine inspiration. It is not a question of degree but method. There is no difference save in method between what a person speaks and what he writes.

There is, then, no difference in authority between what Christ spoke and what HE wrote by Paul, or Peter, or John, but such a miserable quibble is shut out by the fact that hell (gehenna) is always (save once) spoken of by the Lord Himself.

There is no question as to the existence of hell to the one who bows to Scripture. To refuse to believe in its existence is to refuse to believe in the word of Christian truth, in Christ Himself. No person can rightly claim to be a Christian, and disbelieve in the existence of hell. Can anyone be a Christian who refuses to believe the most solemn and oft-repeated asseverations as to hell which fell in warning pity from His gracious lips? Let us clear our minds of cant. We believe in hell or we do not. We believe Christ’s word or we do not.

If only the belief in the existence of hell were to establish itself more firmly and absolutely in our minds, it would evidence itself in a deeper sense of sin, a truer appreciation of the atonement of Christ, in a more intense desire to spread the blessed gospel of God’s grace on the part of every true Christian. The weakening of these truths in our souls will loosen God’s hold upon us and sap our energy in seeking the blessing of others. Even heathen consciences admit there must be a hell. The Apostle Peter makes use of this when he says, “God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus)” (2 Peter 2:4). Tartarus was the pagan Roman’s conception of hell. According to heathen mythology Tartarus was a gulf of gloom, its gates of rock guarded by Furies whose every hair was a serpent.

Robert Browning wrote:
  “There may be heaven, there must be hell.”

We have all heard people speak of heavens and hells on this earth. We have come across men where the fire of remorse and the worm of accusing conscience have made their guilty breasts a veritable hell. Break the laws of nature and suffering is the inevitable result. Sometimes an awful life of suffering is the result of a moment’s gratification of sin in this life. Tears of blood have unavailed to stay the consequences of breaking the governmental laws of God.

And shall the punishment of sin be only in this life? Shall there be no reaping on the other side of death when men in their sins, spurning the mercy of God, die red-handed in rebellion? God in pity and kindness warns us in terrible language that there must be. He says:
  “Fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell [gehenna]” (Matt. 10:28).

One well-known minister foolishly wrote, “What settles the matter in the end for each one of us is our temperamental bias.”

We reply that such unutterable twaddle would be unthinkable in any ordinary court of law. Shall “the temperamental bias” of the thief and the murderer decide the punishment he should receive, or will all right-minded men look for the judge to pass righteous judgment? What sickly sentimentality is indulged in this matter, where above all, the creature, whatever his “temperamental bias,” must bow to the decrees of the Creator. What settles the matter in the end for each one of us is not our “temperamental bias,” but the Word of God, whether we like it or not.

There is still another expression used as to hell*—“the lake of fire”—which we must consider. It occurs five times in the latter part of the Book of Revelation. Most evidently it is the same place as gehenna. The proof of this lies in the fact that whilst the Lord speaks of the danger of being cast into gehenna, and clearly states such a doom will affect both soul and body, the Apostle John in vision presents the lake of fire as that into which souls and bodies of unbelievers will be consigned in their final doom. They cannot possibly be two different places.
{*It will be just as well to say a word as to the expression “bottomless pit” (Greek: abussos), which is seven times used in the Book of Revelation. It might be termed ‘the abyss’. Evidently it is not the same as the lake of fire for in Revelation 20:3 Satan is cast into the bottomless pit before the millennium and, at its close, he is loosed out of his prison and, after a short sharp time of revolt against God, is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (see Rev. 20:10)—his final doom. The abyss is evidently a place where evil spirits are confined and from whence they may, when allowed by God, return to earth as His scourge in this wicked world. There are only two other places where the word abussos is used. In Luke 8:31, where our Lord cast the legion of demons out of the demoniac, they besought Him not to command them to go out “into the deep” (Greek: abussos), that is, to return to their place of confinement. In Revelation 9 the bottomless pit is opened by the angel and immediately swarms of demons, under the symbol of locusts, ascend upon the earth; evidently Spiritism in a frightful and militant way will afflict the earth once the present restraint of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God is removed. In Romans 10:7, the use of the word abussos is intended to convey a sense of the reality of the body of the Lord going into the grave, and the consequent wonder of the resurrection. “Who shall ascend into the deep [abussos]? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.” The passage itself explains the meaning of the word as used in this particular connection.}

We read in Revelation 20:14,
  “And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Seeing all the “blessed” dead will have experienced the bliss of “the resurrection of life” before the millennium at the Lord’s second coming (see Rev. 20:5-6), “the dead small and great” who “stand before God” must be the wicked dead who will experience “the resurrection of damnation” [judgment] (John 5:29). So the verse might be explained for simplicity’s sake as follows—and death (the condition of the bodies of the dead as being apart from their souls), and hades (the condition of the souls of the dead as being apart from their bodies) were in the persons of the resurrected wicked dead cast into the lake of fire, that is to say, the dead, whose bodies had filled the grave* etc., were raised and their souls, which had been in the condition of hades, were reunited to their bodies, as part of the process. As resurrected individuals, bodies and souls reunited, they represented what had been death and hades, and as such, sinners, who had died unrepentant, were cast into the lake of fire, which clearly answers to gehenna. When this takes place, not only will there not be any bodies in the condition of death, nor any souls in the condition of hade—but “death and hades” will thus have been “cast into the lake of fire.” Hence the conditions themselves having come in by sin are ended by an act expressive of God’s judgment of them. And note, this event will take place after the earth and heaven shall have fled away, after time, as such, has ceased to be. The scene is laid IN ETERNITY, in view of the new heaven and the new earth. A few verses later on we read:
  “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 burns with fire and brimstone” (Rev. 21:8).
{*The Great War, with its multitude of torpedoed and sunken ships, has given a vivid meaning to the words. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it” (Rev. 20:13).}

Here again this passage is strikingly found following so closely Revelation 20:11-15, continuing the thought that this outlook is not now in time but in ETERNITY and for ETERNITY. Shall souls dare to trifle with the solemn declaration of Scripture? Shall the possibility of such a doom of unutterable woe not alarm the sinner?

At infinite cost to Himself, God has provided a way of escape, even through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ who bore all the wrath of God against sin and making full atonement for it.

The invitation to come to Christ is world-wide, emphatic and insistent. Would that all paid heed to it now, for:
  “There are no pardons in the tomb,
  And brief is mercy’s day.”

There is then not the shadow of a doubt but that the Bible teaches the existence of a literal hell. We are told it is “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Sad it is that man, in his folly refusing the mercy of God, must face upon the judgment seat Him who desires that all men should be saved. Thus will they seal their own doom in the companionship of the devil and the fallen angels.

We now address ourselves to the serious question:

IS THE PUNISHMENT OF HELL EVERLASTING?

A well-known recent writer says bluntly:
  “If the Bible teaches ‘everlasting punishment,’ so much the worse for the Bible, because we cannot believe it: you may quote texts and have behind the texts the very finest scholarship to justify certain interpretations, but it is no good. We are no longer the slaves of a book, nor the blind devotees of a creed—we believe in love and in evolution.”

Another writes:
  “There never was, is, or will be any right in the name of the gospel of Christ to speak of ‘eternal torments.’”

For my part, I would rather have to meet these blunt open denials than the whispered insinuations of many. It is much better to fight a foe in the open than to have to do with the stiletto and poisoned dagger.

If I believed the Word of God taught non-eternity of punishment, I would seek grace to proclaim it from the house-tops. Why be ashamed or afraid of the truth? There are literally thousands of ministers today, paid by congregations to propagate the gospel, who are veritable agents of the devil in undermining the faith of their hearers in the authority and inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. Such are traitors in the camp.

And one of the vital points of attack is the doctrine of eternal punishment.

There are two schools of thought who teach non-eternity of punishment. Their adherents are respectively called Universalists and Annihilationists.

The Universalist believes that those who die unsaved will undergo a period of suffering of more or less duration, which will purify them, and in the end all will be saved. God, they say, will triumph over evil. True, but not in the way they say. The legitimate end of their argument, though they do not put it so baldly, is that the devil and the fallen angels will ultimately be saved. Seeing Christ did not die for the devil and his angels, it lands the Universalist into the blasphemous doctrine of salvation apart from atonement.

Let us briefly examine the Universalist theory. “God is almighty,” they say. “He abhors sin, and He must triumph; therefore He will empty hell, some time, by swinging open the door of mercy to all mankind—or else His character of goodness and love is destroyed.” The Universalist admits that God has a character of goodness and love. He bases his appeal on this. If this be so, the Universalist must admit that a God of love—and He is a God of love—has allowed sin to come into this world, and that it has continued with all its unspeakable sorrow and blight and death for six thousand years.

And if He has allowed its presence for so long, why cannot He allow its punishment to be FOR EVER? No logic can give a satisfactory answer to this. We are shut up to revelation as to this, and the answer is plain and unmistakable.

But it may be argued that there are good reasons why sin should exist now. Then how may it be known by us that there are not good and weighty reasons that its punishment should exist for ever? What right have we to speculate on such a subject? “What says the Scripture?” is our only safe inquiry.

‘But,’ says the objector, ‘How can an offence, it may be done in a moment of time, merit never-ending punishment?’ We reply again, that here we are out of the region where speculation is of any use. Revelation alone can help us.

When man punishes sin, he weighs it as it affects himself, its effect on society, as it relates to time. And yet, even in that case, a crime, which may take considerably less time to perform than it would take the reader to peruse this short pamphlet, is often followed by many years of punishment, or it may be by capital punishment.

But when we come to sin against an infinite Being, we have no measure to use except what is given us by that infinite Being. The problem is beyond our solving. Sin, which took nothing less than an infinite Sacrifice, cannot be measured by the justice of the law courts. We are thus shut up to what God says in His Word and our wisdom is to refuse our own reason in this matter.

Again, it is argued that a second chance of salvation after death will empty hell. It is urged that God’s character as a God of love demands this.

But is there any guarantee that sinners who refuse the gospel in this life will accept it in the next? We may well ask in astonishment, Why should people refuse the first offer? Will the nature that rejects it with scorn in this life embrace it in the next? Will the thorns of this life bear grapes in the next; or the thistles of this age bear figs in the next?

Besides which, the Bible holds out no such hope of a second chance. One or two passages of Scripture are twisted in order to support this theory. The following Scripture is appealed to:
  “Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometimes were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Peter 3:18-20).

But the meaning of this is plain. Noah preached to the antediluvian world, whilst he was building the ark. It was the Spirit of Christ in him that was the motive and power of his testimony. That “the Spirit of Christ” was the motive power of Old Testament testimony is confirmed in 1 Peter 1:11. He is careful to tell us that eight souls were saved in the ark. It follows that the rest rejected Noah’s testimony—the very preaching of the Spirit of Christ in him. The flood overwhelmed them and they perished. When Peter wrote, for something like two thousand five hundred years they had been “spirits in prison.” This meaning presents no difficulties. We know that Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). It is in keeping with the whole tenor of Scripture.

On the contrary, the Universalist’s explanation that the Lord actually went into hades and preached a second chance is beset with insuperable difficulties.

The passage in question is limited to those who lived while Noah was preparing the ark, which seems to have occupied about one hundred years. Before the flood some fifteen centuries rolled their course; after this, until Peter wrote the words we are examining, some twenty-five centuries had passed, in all some four thousand years since the creation of man. Does it not seem absurd to explain a verse in such a manner as to make it necessary to say that the people, who lived just at that particular period of just one hundred years should have had a second chance? What about the people who lived during the other thirty-nine centuries?

This Scripture does not prove enough for the Universalist. According to him, it speaks of a few people who lived during a few years before the flood getting a second chance. They cannot affirm that one of the millions of the post-diluvian world had a second chance, not to mention the multitudes who lived before the flood. It is simply absurd to think that of all the millions in hades when our Lord died, that by way of comparison a mere handful was singled out to receive the offer of a second chance which was not given to the rest. Really, to have to base a theory on such grotesque grounds only proves the poverty of the Universalists’ case. But we utterly deny that those living just before the flood got a second chance. There is no such thought in Scripture.

Then notice, it does not say what Christ preached to these spirits nor reveal the effect produced. If the Universalists’ explanation is correct we should have had these particulars, and they would have been affirmed of ALL mankind and not of a special handful who lived in a particular period.

Why then did Peter introduce that particular period? It was not done at random. Scripture is inspired. The answer is obvious. He drew upon the narrative of the flood and the ark to use it as an illustration of baptism, as bringing home the meaning of the death of Christ, applied in a practical way to the believer.

In the same way another Scripture is used by the Universalists.

  “For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).

But the explanation of this Scripture is most obviously the same as the other. “The gospel was preached to them that are now dead,” would be a proper paraphrase for the thought of the writer. Note he does not say, “For this cause is the gospel preached to them that are dead,” but “for this cause was the gospel preached.”

Now if such an important doctrine as that of a second chance after death were true we should find the affirmation of it running throughout Scripture, but the contrary is the case. The Apostle Paul writes:
  “Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2);
  whilst our Lord’s own words are plain,
  “Beside all this, between us and you there is A GREAT GULF FIXED: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26).

Scripture is silent as to any remedial change wrought by punishment after this life. God has got no other Gospel than the one the Scriptures proclaim. Man’s heart will not be altered by change of circumstances. Men who hate the gospel now will hate the gospel then. If men will have none of it during their whole lifetime, will it be certain that eternity will suffice to make them change their minds? There is no evidence of it in Scripture.

For what do we find? Did punishment gain Cain’s heart for God? Did heavy judgments soften Pharaoh’s will and make him sue for mercy? Was Ahab moved by what overtook him? Were the Israelites kept true to God when the scourge fell upon them, or did they lapse again and again into idolatry?

Demons spoke to Christ, prayed that He would not torment them before the time, but did a cry for mercy ever escape their lips?

We read of “spirits in prison” where they had been for twenty-five centuries. There is no hint of any change in their minds. The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah have been suffering since the days when the guilty cities of the plain were overthrown, but the inspired writer Jude leaves us under the full impression that punishment had effected no change of heart, and his inspired lines hold out no hope of the punishment coming to an end.

One Scripture for long has been illuminating to the writer on the subject:
  “They gnawed their tongues for pain, and blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Rev. 16:10-11).

Pain does not lead to repentance in this passage. “The goodness of God leads . . . to repentance” (Rom. 2:4), is the testimony of Scripture. When this is despised, there is only the treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath.

One verse of Scripture destroys the theories of both the Universalist and Annihilationist.
  “He that believes not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

  “Shall not see life,” destroys the Universalists’ theory. He says, “All shall see life”. God says the unbeliever shall not see life.
  “The wrath of God abides on him,” destroys the Annihilationists’ theory. The unbeliever must exist for the wrath to abide upon him.

Annihilationists are themselves divided into two schools. One class believes the sinner is annihilated at death, never to be raised, the other asserts that the wicked dead will be raised, judged at the great white throne, cast into the lake of fire, and there burnt up, consumed or annihilated. The former class deny the resurrection of the wicked in spite of the plain language of Scripture.

Conditional Immortality is taught by both classes of Annihilationists, that is to say, they deny the continuous existence of the soul, teaching that life beyond the grave is conditional on accepting Christ in this life and thus procuring life in Him. They assert there is no life after death save in Christ. None, they say, will have continuous existence but believers on the Lord Jesus.

The doctrine of this latter class lands its adherents into obvious absurdities. If there is no life beyond the grave but in Christ, then it follows the wicked dead when raised must have life in Christ. How could they be judged if they stood before the great white throne alive in Christ? How could that life be annihilated in the lake of fire? Impossible!

Further, they say life in Christ is immortality. How then could the wicked dead be raised in life in Christ, in other words in immortality and yet be annihilated? Surely words have no meaning if immortality can be so destroyed.

A mistake common to all conditional immortality teachers is that of confounding eternal life with immortality. They teach that they are convertible terms. Scripture says:
  “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

A leading Conditional Immortality writer says:
  “Immortality is the gift of God in Christ our Lord, but is not a universal possession of man” (Report of Ilford Conference, 1913, p. 56).

But the believer in Christ has got eternal life NOW. If eternal life and immortality are convertible terms, as many teachers of Conditional Immortality say, then it follows that believers in Christ, who have got eternal life NOW, have immortality NOW and therefore cannot die. But they do die. It is to be remarked that immortality (athanasia) is only mentioned three times in the New Testament. One passage is constantly used triumphantly by those who deny immortality as pertaining to man. Speaking of God, it says:
  “Who only has immortality”* (1 Tim. 6:16).
{*It is well known that the word immortal, occurring in 1 Timothy 1:17, applying to God, should be translated incorruptible.}

But this proves too much for their case. They urge God ONLY has immortality. But the angels have it in the sense of endless existence, for mortal means more than capable of death, it means dying, that is to say, a mortal being is one in whom the process of death is being carried out, it may be slowly and imperceptibly but none the less surely, till the process ends in actual death. The seeds of death are at work till the end is reached. Luke 20:36 is clear as to the eternal existence of the angels.

Our Lord, speaking of those who shall be judged worthy of resurrection from among the dead, that is, true believers, says:
  “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36),
that is to say, the angels cannot die.

And further, what is still more serious in using this verse the way the Annihilationists do is that they cut away the ground absolutely from under their own feet, for if God alone has immortality it follows then that not only no one has it now, as for instance the angels, but also, to be logical, no one can have it in the future.

Scripture tells us plainly that believers will put on immortality at the coming of Christ, so the Word of God contradicts such a use of the verse.

But it clearly tells us God only has immortality. How then is this true? The answer is plain and conclusive. God only has it inherently. God only has it in Himself. All else who have it, have it as conferred and sustained by Him.

The two other places where immortality (athanasia) is mentioned are as follows:
  “This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So where this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:53-54).

Here the sense is plain. Corruption and mortality both have reference to the body not to the soul. Corruption applies to a DEAD body—mortality to a DYING body.

There is no dispute that corruption in this Scripture refers to the dead body of a believer and incorruption to the body of the believer in resurrection. There is no need to labour the point.

That the term mortal refers to a DYING body is plain from the following passages:
  “Let not sin reign in your mortal body” (Rom. 6:12).
  “Christ . . . shall also quicken your mortal bodies” (Rom. 8:11).
  “The life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11).
  “For we that are in this tabernacle [the body] do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (2 Cor. 5:4).

Here we have every passage in the New Testament where the words mortal and immortality are used. It is clear that the terms are used in connection with the dying body.

On the other hand, the term mortal is never used in connection with the soul. Why? Because it is NOT subject to death. The soul is immortal, not inherently as God is, but conferred and sustained by God.

We read, as to man,
  “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7).

Mr. F.W.Grant, in “Facts and Theories as to a Future State,” writes, as to this passage:
  “Man and beast are alike possessed of living souls. We do not disguise the truth as to this, but contend for it” (p. 56).
  “Now, upon the most cursory glance at this, it is evident that something more took place in man’s creation than in the creation of the brute. It is plain that God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and that He did not into the brute’s . . . For although what is communicated may not be yet fully shown—and it is quite the character of an initial revelation, that it should not be—it is plain that man has a link here with God Himself which the beast has not . . . It is by this way he receives life” (pp. 57-58).

But the reader may urge, “If the word mortal is never applied in the Scripture to the soul, neither is the word immortal. Can the soul, then, be said to be immortal?” We reply that it is perfectly true that the actual word immortal is never used in Scripture in connection with the soul, but nevertheless the truth of the unending existence of the soul is woven into the very web and woof of Scripture. If the soul were not immortal, but mortal, surely this would be affirmed in the Scriptures. There is not a line to say that the soul is mortal.

God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life, and he became in this special way, in contradistinction to the beasts, a living soul.

All through Scripture it is taken for granted that the soul is unending in existence. But seeing that “life and incorruptibility” are brought “to light through the gospel,” it is obvious that we must look to the New Testament for the fullest light on the subject.

Yet even in the Old Testament we find abundant indications of what we are seeking for. We need not repeat all the passages we quoted as to Sheol, proving that the soul at death goes into a condition of conscious existence in the other world, in other words, that continuous existence belongs to the soul. The evidence on this score is overwhelming. And when we come to the New Testament, its testimony as to Hades, the equivalent of Sheol, confirms this statement fully.

A very strong proof of what we have asserted in the opening pages of this pamphlet as to Sheol and Hades comes out when the Sadducees, who, disbelieving in resurrection, urged the hypothetical case of the woman with seven husbands, and received the answer from the Lord’s lips:
  “As touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matt. 22:31-32).

And, as if to enforce the great importance of this incident, both Mark and Luke record it. They refer particularly, as also does Stephen in his address to the Sanhedrim, to the time when the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush (see Ex. 3:6). The patriarchs referred to had then been dead for many long years. If their souls had ceased to exist, God could not have announced Himself as their God, for it distinctly and emphatically says, “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” And further, He said, “I AM the God of Abraham,” etc. Their bodies were clearly in their graves. Then obviously their souls were living in the condition of hades, as we have seen.

Further, Jude speaking of the inhabitants of the guilty cities of the plain, tells us that they are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. No hint of soul-sleeping or of the non-existence of the soul (see Jude 7), though, when Jude wrote, two thousand years had rolled by since judgment had fallen upon them.

Peter likewise refers to the “spirits in prison,” those who had been disobedient in Noah’s day. He likewise gives no hint of soul-sleeping or the non-existence of the soul, though these spirits had been in prison since antediluvian days.

Then again, Moses and Elias appeared in glory on the mount of transfiguration, showing that they had conscious existence though the body of Moses had been in the grave for hundreds of years.

Enoch and Elijah were translated to heaven without dying at all, no hint of soul-sleep or non-existence being given. The dying thief heard the words, “Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). I know an effort has been made to prove that “today” refers to the Lord uttering the words, “I say unto thee today,” but the structure of the sentence forbids such a translation. It is evidently a gracious reply to the thief’s request, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (a time still future). How emphatic is the Lord’s reply, “I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.”

The apostle Paul said, “I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Phil. 1:23). He did not say he had a desire to depart and enter into soul-sleep or unconsciousness. Surely that would not be “far better” than enjoying the Lord’s love here on earth and being used in His happy service. He says distinctly, “To depart and to be WITH Christ.”

And as if to make it abundantly plain, we read, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Here it is a question of the soul being parted from the body but present WITH the Lord. No hint of soul-sleep but a distinctly happy intermediate state described.

Further, we have the Lord’s own words:
  “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell [hades] he lift up his eyes being in torments” (Luke 16:22-23).

The Lord presents the truth here in unmistakable language. The beggar’s body lay in the grave, whilst his spirit passed into happiness. Abraham’s bosom is symbolic of the happy portion of the departed saints of God in old times.

The rich man’s body was in the grave. “Lifting up his eyes,” is, as we have already seen, simply symbolic language describing that his soul was conscious. The simple, graphic language appeals far more to both learned and unlearned than an attempt at describing soul-consciousness in scientific terms, which would be unsuitable to the Lord’s hearers. The fact is, there is not the slightest difficulty in the narrative if taken as it is meant. In our everyday language we are constantly using figures of speech which all understand. Nine-tenths of anti-Bible criticism is dishonest and has a distinct intention to put the Bible in the wrong, and still the Book lives as vital and vigorous as ever.

In the few incidents and passages referred to we have both the believer and non-believer referred to as conscious after death as to their souls.

Further, as to believers, eternal life is theirs and they shall live for ever; as to unbelievers, “the wrath of God abides upon them,” proving in both cases on another line their eternal existence. With such evidence before us, which could be multiplied if space allowed, we have clear, overwhelming evidence of the never-ending existence of the soul.

Let not eternal life and immortality be confounded.
  Eternal life is the present and everlasting portion of every believer in Christ.
  Immortality, as presented in Scripture in connection with the believer, is that which he will receive in connection with his body at the Lord’s second coming.

Nor will it do to say that the expression “second death” means annihilation in face of the expression, “the wrath of God abides on him;” there must be living persons to have wrath abiding on them. Again, “the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever.” There must be living persons capable of enduring torment. Again, “their worm dies not,” etc.; an annihilation cannot be said to have anything. Here it is “their worm dies not.”

The word ‘death’ is used in three ways.
It expresses:
  First, separation morally from God through sin.
  Second, separation of the body from the soul and spirit.
  Third, eternal separation from God.
  In no case does it mean annihilation.

As to the first, we read of those “dead in trespasses and sins” when body and soul were both alive together on this earth. Death in the sense of the second needs no comment, save to say it does not mean ceasing to exist, as we have abundantly proved. The third way in which the term is used is plain. “And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Rev. 20:14). The second death is an abiding, eternal existence of misery. We speak of “a living death,” and the meaning is plain. Here the meaning is equally plain: “second death” means everlasting, conscious existence under the wrath of God—eternal separation from God, which must mean misery and torment, for all true blessing and joy consist in our right relation to God.

Now let us come more directly to the question, Is the punishment of the lost everlasting? If the wrath of God abides on the unbeliever, as Scripture states, there must be the unbeliever for it to abide on. There can be no getting out of the plain meaning of these words. If the unbeliever is annihilated the wrath of God can not abide on what does not exist.

We remember years ago two Seventh Day Adventists in Jamaica informing the writer that they believed in everlasting punishment. If the sinner were annihilated, the punishment, they argued, would be eternal because irrevocable. And then they added triumphantly, “Eternal punishment does not mean eternal punishing.”

I replied, “Does three months’ punishmemt mean three months’ punishing?” They admitted that it did. “Then,” I replied, “eternal punishment means eternal punishing.” A leading writer of the Conditional Immortality School uses the same illogical fallacy: “We believe in eternal punishment, not eternal punishing—the latter a great delusion, the former a great truth” (Report of Ilford Conference, 1913 p. 56).

But, says the Annihilationist, does not the Bible say that we are to fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body? Does not destroy mean annihilate? By no means.

Destroy means to render a person or thing useless in respect of the purpose for which he or it is made. We drop a cup. It breaks into fragments. We say, and say rightly, ‘It is destroyed.’ That this is the meaning of the word is plain. The word for destroy in the Greek is apollumi.

For instance we read,
  “The chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy [Gk. apollumi] Jesus” (Matt. 27:20).

Could the Jews annihilate the Lord? Assuredly not. But they could (being allowed of God) put Him to death, and that is what is meant here.

Again we read,
  “No man puts new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred [Gk. apollumi]” (Mark 2:22).

Evidently, destruction here means bottles burst and rendered useless and not bottles annihilated.

Again,
  “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost [Gk. apollumi]” (Luke 15:6).

Could the Good Shepherd have found something that was annihilated—something that was not something? No, it was a lost or destroyed sheep He found and He saved it from its lost estate and recovered it from destruction.

Again,
  “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost [Gk. apollumi]” (2 Cor. 4:3).

Most evidently the lost or destroyed here are sinners in this world. It would be useless talking of the Gospel being hid from those who did not exist.

Very many more passages to the same effect could be cited, but enough has been given to show that the word destroy does not mean annihilate.

And yet a speaker at the “Conditional Immortality Mission” Conference, held in 1913, had the audacity to say:
  “The natural and Scriptural meaning of ‘destroy’ is quite clear. Its dictionary meaning (as given in Nuttall’s Standard Dictionary) is: to ruin or annihilate by demolishing or burning; to overthrow and put an end to; to lay waste; to slay; to extirpate, etc. Contrary and inconsistent meanings are merely refuges of theologians who seek to alter the proper and true meaning to suit some erroneous interpretation of Scripture . . . Gehenna is a place of destruction.”

The inquiry has to be made, Is the word rendered from the original Greek destroy rightly translated? From its plain usage it cannot mean annihilation and the above speaker might as well accurately consult his dictionary for the meanings of “lost” or “marred” to get the meaning of “destroy.” Such tactics betray either ignorance a school boy should be ashamed of, or dishonesty of the worst type.

  “But,” urge the non-eternity teachers, “aiōnios,” the Greek word translated eternal and everlasting, means age-lasting. And if it means age-lasting it cannot mean eternal.”

Let us remember that language is brought into existence by man to express his ideas. The word is coined to meet the need. The word follows the need. Seeing man is bounded by time and sense, and all beyond is outside his natural ken, and that he is dependent on revelation for all true knowledge of what is beyond death, one would not expect to find in human language words expressing divine and eternal ideas.

Missionaries translating the Bible into heathen languages all testify to the difficulty they have in expressing divine thoughts in language coined to meet man’s needs and limited by his experience and environment.

But as divine ideas are revealed a fuller meaning is often stamped upon a word. This we shall see plainly and be able to prove to all honest readers is the case with the Greek word aiōnios.

Before giving the Scriptural use of the word I would quote from a well-known authority on such subjects:
  “The etymology given as early as the time of Aristotle, and by him is αìευ ẅν, always existing. The earliest use of the word is in the sense of a man’s life. It is so used by Homer of the death of his heroes and in other ways.

Very much later it came to mean one whole dispensational period or state of things: but when used by itself in its own meaning, it had very clearly the sense of eternity. It is thus used by Philo in a passage which can leave no doubt: ‘In eternity [έν αìŵνί], nothing is either past or to come but only subsists’” (J.N.Darby).

Philo’s definition leaves nothing to be desired as to clearness. No past, no future, a continuous present. Could anything be more striking as a definition of eternity? Moreover, Philo has special weight as a witness, he was a Hellenistic Jew and was contemporary with the apostles. When it is a question of the force of Greek words as used in the New Testament, we could not adduce weightier authority.

Mosheim, whose learning none can dispute, says aiōn properly signifies indefinite or eternal duration as opposite to that which is finite or temporal.

Arrian—the Greek philosopher—says: “I am not an Аìẁύ (aiōn), but a man, a part of all things, as an hour of a day, I must subsist as an hour, and pass away as an hour.” Arrian here contrasts the ephemeral existence of himself as a man with eternal existence and for this he employs the word, aiōn.

Such authors clearly give the thought of eternity as the meaning of the word.

Let us now turn to what is of infinitely more importance, the way Scripture uses the word. Aiōnios is used seventy-one times in the New Testament. In three passages only does it apply to past periods.
  “Ordained before the world [aiōnon]” (1 Cor. 2:7).
  “Upon whom the ends of the world [aiōnon] are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
  “Once in the end of the world [aiōnon] has He appeared to put away sin” (Heb. 9:26).
  Aiōnon means, by force of the context in these passages, ages which were bounded by time.

In all other cases the word clearly means eternal. It is used once in relation to God; once in relation to God’s power; twice in relation to the Lord; once in relation to the Holy Spirit; forty-two times in relation to eternal life; fourteen times to express the duration of eternal bliss; and seven times to express the duration of everlasting punishment.

None of us, who profess in the smallest degree to be Christians, question the eternal existence of God, or of the Lord Jesus Christ, or of the Holy Spirit. All must allow that aiōnios means eternal in this connection. One passage very clearly, even in our English Bibles, presents the thought of eternity.

‘The things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal [aiōnios]” (2 Cor. 4:18).

Surely that which is literally age-lasting is temporal. What is eternal is here contrasted with what is temporal, or age-lasting. Apart from Greek, the force of this important verse is very plain.

Then see the long list of forty-two texts affirming that the believer has eternal life; the long list of fourteen texts affirming the eternal duration of the believer’s blessings—fifty-six texts in all. Now we do not find books written fiercely contending that aiōnios in this connection is only age-lasting, on the contrary, we find writers who teach non-eternity of punishment, affirming suavely that everlasting life is eternal. Verily the legs of the lame are not equal. What a pitiable sight, men receiving the Word of God when it suits them, and refusing the same when it does not suit them.

But of the fifty-six passages referring to eternal life and its blessings, and seven passages referring to everlasting punishment, let us look at one which conveys both thoughts. Surely it is not for nothing that it is so put.

  “These shall go away into everlasting [aiōnios] punishment; but the righteous into life eternal [aiōnios]” (Matt. 25:46).

Surely if the punishment is not eternal, the life is not. Both Universalists and Annihilationists are impaled upon the horns of a dilemma here. The SAME word is used to characterize the duration of the punishment of the one class, and the life of the other. There is no running away from this argument.

Professor Salmond, in “Christian Doctrine of Immortality,” writes:
  “To say that the adjective aiōnios has one sense in the first half of the sentence, and another in the second, is the counsel of despair.”

This must be faced. For no one can be honest in suggesting that God employs the same word in one short verse to express two different meanings.

And seeing the word is used to characterize the duration of the existence of God, of the Lord Jesus, of the Holy Ghost, we can have no doubt as to the meaning of the word. God has stamped the meaning of eternity on this word. Take another passage where the thought of eternal punishment is put two ways:
  “He that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal [aiōnios] damnation” (Mark 3:29).

Then again, take the solemn statement three times repeated by the Lord Himself,
  “Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).

Is this not in contrast to the Gehenna outside of Jerusalem, where millions of worms perished, and thousands of flames were quenched? Here “their” worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched, and as if to make the meaning doubly plain, a still stronger expression is used in relation to the being of God and eternal punishment.

  “God who lives for ever and ever” (literally to the ages of the ages) (Rev. 15:7).
  “And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever (literally to the ages of the ages): and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image” (Rev. 14:11).

How forcible is this! The same writer, within the compass of a few verses, affirms that God exists to the ages of the ages and that the torment of the lost continues to the ages of the ages, that is, as long as He exists the torment of the lost continues.

Torment signifies a condition which requires a living entity. You cannot torment what is annihilated; that which does not exist cannot be so spoken about, therefore, if the torment of these lost souls continues for ever—to the ages of the ages—it is necessary that these lost ones should be, not annihilated, but in conscious existence.

But it is often argued that God is too kind to torture any. This is true. God tortures none. The Bible never affirms that He does. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Does anyone accuse the King of torturing his subjects, who are by their misdeeds the inmates of H.M. prisons? Go into the prisons, see the tormented mind, the accusing conscience; the bitter remorse that often fills with exquisite torture the minds, the consciences of the prisoners. Would anyone in his senses accuse the King of deliberately torturing his prisoners? Assuredly not! It is the remembrance of their own evil deeds, and the hourly consequences of them, that torment them. They torment themselves.

Scripture says:
  “The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands” (Ps. 9:16).

Or to go a step further, is it necessary, as a punishment, for the magistrate to order a wicked youth to be birched? Or does the judge condemn a criminal to hard labour? Will any right-minded citizen accuse the magistrate or judge of torturing those so condemned to punishment for their misdeeds? In connection with the affairs of this world one does not hear of such sickly sentimentality, but this is a common argument, if such a term it can be dignified by, often urged in connection with this solemn subject. It recoils on the heads of those who use it.

There is one very clear Scripture which makes abundantly plain that to be cast into the lake of fire does not mean annihilation.

In Revelation 19:20, we read:
  “These [the beast and false prophet] both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

Then in chapter 20 we learn that the devil is found in the bottomless pit for one thousand years, during the course of the millennium, and at the end of that time is let loose, and after a brief rebellion we read:
  “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).

Here we learn two things. For over one thousand years two individuals, the beast and the false prophet, will have been in the lake of fire, when they will be joined by Satan himself, and their portion is to “be tormented day and night for ever and ever [literally to the ages of the ages].”

In the face of this, shall it be said that punishment is not eternal? I know there is an attempt to whittle away the solemn truth of this passage, because of the expression “day and night,” but this is idle opposition to the truth, and worse. Moreover, if this is urged, there is still the expression to face, “To the ages of the ages.” The fact is, the expression “day and night” only emphasizes the continuous unremitting character of the punishment.

But, says an objector, ‘How can an individual be in a lake of fire and not be instantly consumed?’ We believe untold harm has been done by preachers enlarging in a lurid and graphic and unscriptural way as to the language of Scripture concerning “gehenna,” “the lake of fire and brimstone,” “their worm,” and “the outer darkness.” We believe the very language of Scripture should be used by the preacher and if he does not use it he is lacking in faithfulness to his hearers. Let him warn his hearers of the danger of hell fire and of eternal punishment, but let it be strictly in the language the Holy Ghost teaches.

One thing is perfectly plain. If it is urged that these terms are symbolic it in no way lessens the awful truths we are considering. Let us never forget that.

The Lord Jesus, in infinite wisdom and in boundless compassion for the lost, has seen fit to use plain, warning language and we do well to adhere to it, not taking from it nor adding to it. The late Sir Robert Anderson wrote, “So awful is the teaching of the Lord Jesus respecting the doom of the impenitent, that every statement on the subject ought to adhere strictly to the very words of Scripture.” With this we are in hearty accord, but let us use the very language of Scripture. We shall find it to be the sword of the Spirit.

There are, however, two striking incidents given in Scripture, which may well silence any objector.

When Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law at Horeb, he saw a wonderful sight.
  “And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed”* (Ex. 3:2).

The caviller may say, ‘How could the bush be on fire and yet not be consumed?’ Yet here we have the plain statement that it was so.
{*There are two Scriptures, “Doth not even nature itself teach you?” (1 Cor. 11:14). “Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee” (Job 12:8), which afford us instruction as to using illustrations around us. In the case of the Burning Bush what happened was contrary to nature. But in nature we have a remarkable mineral, asbestos, of a fine fibrous texture, resembling flax, which is incombustible and the name of which is derived from the Greek. The word is used in the following Scriptures:
  “He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable [Gk. asbestos] fire” (Matt. 3:12).
  “The fire that never shall be quenched [Gk. asbestos]” (Mark 9:43).
  “The fire that never shall be quenched [Gk. asbestos]” (Mark 9:45).
  “The chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable [Gk. asbestos]” (Luke 3:17).

Is there any limit to the power of God? We do well not to speculate as to conditions of which we have no knowledge, save as revealed in the Scriptures.}

Again, you remember how the three Hebrew children were flung into a burning fiery furnace, heated seven times so that the fierce flame slew the mightiest men of Nebuchadnezzar’s army who threw them in, and yet the three Hebrew children were not burned, nor their hair singed, nor the smell of fire on their clothes, only their bonds were consumed. Can you explain this?

Rather let us bow to God’s Word without question, and believe just what it states.

We must ever bear in mind that we cannot apply the conditions that obtain in this life in connection with mortal bodies to the bodies of unbelievers which will be raised for judgment. To do so is to betray our ignorance.

There is one very expressive passage affording much room for thought. It comes in at the end of the Scripture, in which the Son of God gives solemn warning as to gehenna.

  “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:49-50).

We all know the preservative quality of salt. Decay is indefinitely arrested in meat when it is salted. This is a world where moral decay has set in and the Lord would have His people kept by the preserving salt of His grace. The sacrifice salted with salt is emblematical of the fact that God would preserve His people for Himself from the impurity and corruption of what is around. As a well known author says:
  “Salt . . . is that energy of God within us which connects everything in us with God, and dedicates the heart to Him, binding it to Him in the sense of obligation and of desire, rejecting all in oneself that is contrary to Him” (J.N.Darby).

Failing this, how terrible is the language, “Salted WITH FIRE.” The fire, instead of consuming and destroying, does the very opposite. It is preservative for itself, hence, “the fire is not quenched.”

Keble says truly:
  “Salted with fire they seem to show
  How spirit lost in endless woe
  May undecaying live . . . .”

I have invariably found, in personal conversation, that those who affirm non-eternity of punishment make little or no appeal to Scripture, but to sentiment and carnal reason. They tell us God cannot do this and will not do that. Scripture may teach the exact opposite. That with them I have generally found matters little. They sit on the judgment seat and affirm what God will or will not do.

We beg the reader to pay no attention to sentiment or carnal reason in this matter for Scripture plainly tells us, “The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him” (1 Cor. 2:14), and again, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

Let it be only and altogether, “What says the Scripture?” There only are we on firm ground. There only are we safe.

In connection with this subject we lately read through a book affirming Universalism, written by the Rev. Arthur Chambers. Over one hundred editions have been called for, so that the book is well known.

The author boldly denies the thought of eternity in any sense to the word aiōnios. He ought to know the way even heathen writers have used the word in that sense, as we have pointed out, but he makes no allusion to them. He takes upon himself to teach us on the subject and we might, therefore, expect him to be fully conversant with it.

Further, he boldly denies eternal punishment, saying it is age-lasting and to be consistent affirms that everlasting life is only age-lasting. Alas! the sophistry of his plea is threadbare in the extreme. Fifty-six times is eternal life spoken of in the New Testament. This author has the effrontery to tell us that fifty-six times does God tell us in His Word that the divine life He gives is only age-lasting, yet he at once affirms that life is not age-lasting at all, but is for ever and ever, going to other Scriptures for proof.

Does God then juggle with words like that in His Holy Book? Is divine life affirmed again and again to be age-lasting when all the while it is eternal and nothing else? Such arguments are unworthy of any honest man, not to say of God Himself.

But this clergyman probably finds it convenient to forget that aiōnios is used once in regard to God Himself. Is He only age-lasting? Once in relation to His power? Is that only age-lasting? Twice in relation to the Lord Jesus, in whom all the believing sinner’s hopes are founded? Is He only an age-lasting Saviour? Twice in relation to the Holy Spirit. Is the Godhead only age-lasting? To ask these questions is to answer them.

Why did this clergyman not mention one of these passages in which the word aiōnios is thus used? Why? He knew of them. That is certain. Why did he not refer to these texts? The fact is he could not face them and so he ignored them. Was this consistent? Is a cause helped by such conduct?

He does not stand alone in the condemnation that Scripture metes out to those who handle the Word deceitfully. All the anti-Christian apostate religions, such as Millennial Dawnism, Christian Science, Christadelphianism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, New Theology, unite in openly denying eternal punishment, and do so by handling the Word of God deceitfully. Along with this go blasphemous doctrines as to the deity of the Lord Jesus and His atoning work.

We heard one of these deceivers lately telling nearly one thousand hearers that God passed the sentence of death on the disobedient sinner, and that when Adam sinned the judgment was:
  “In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17);
  that is, that man became mortal, and in due time died, perished, body died, soul died, spirit died, and that that was THE judgment. That after death there was no consciousness. He kept pressing that death was the entire judgment—that God said it, that we must believe it. .

Such deceitful handling of the Scriptures moved us to righteous indignation, so we said loudly, clearly, solemnly, so that all could hear, “Scripture says,
  “It is appointed unto men once to die, but AFTER THIS [that is death] the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).
  “If after death is the judgment, how can death be the judgment?”

The speaker seemed quite staggered for a moment or two under the assault, behind which we are assured was the power of God’s Word and Spirit. Recovering himself, this deceiver said words to this effect, “I cannot explain every verse in the Bible at once; I am dealing with Genesis 2:17 just now.” Evasion was the only course open to him. It was not a brave or manly course, but it affords a sample of the way in which multitudes are deceived.

Is the theory of non-eternity of punishment held by spiritual Christians, by those deeply taught in the Scriptures, or characterized by sanctity of life, earnestness of purpose, success in reaching the unconverted?

Our experience is that it is not. This theory was first promulgated in our early days by such scurrilous infidels as Charles Bradlaugh and Colonel Ingersoll, then put forward by a bold spirit here and there among professing Christians, such as Canon Farrar and Archdeacon Wilberforce, woven subtly into novels, temptingly put forward in poetry and then advanced till now it is the general belief in Christendom. Show me the mere professing Christian, the worldly Christian, the man with low ideas of the Scriptures, of God, of sin, of the atonement and this theory finds in his mind a ready response.

On the contrary, the truth of eternal punishment is found among those one can look up to with reverence as living exponents of Christianity, those characterized as true students of Scripture, those who are prominently used by God in helping His people or reaching the unconverted.

All this, whilst not exactly an argument, now that we have clearly established the truth from Scripture, comes in as a confirmation, and is as we should expect it to be.

We are certain Scripture states things in a way that it desires the truth should be received. We would rather listen to the exposition of a disciple, like the apostles of old, “unlearned and ignorant,” but who is spiritual and godly, than to that of one who rests alone upon his scholarship and powers of intellect. A knowledge of Hebrew and Greek is most useful, but there are other things far more necessary and that is to be a true believer on the Lord Jesus and dependent on the Holy Spirit for the teaching and reception of the truth. Scholarship in the hands of such an one is of great value and the writer would be the last to undervalue it.

It is a comfort to approach the Scriptures with the feeling that it is written for the benefit and instruction not only of the learned and scholarly, but of the simple believer in Christ, among whom the learned and scholarly, if found, are happy.

Any such simple believer reading the Scriptures for the first time, untampered by twentieth century religious unbelief, would certainly rise from his task believing that God has warned the unbelieving sinner of the awful risks he runs, even of everlasting punishment, that is, of conscious existence for all eternity under the wrath of God.

And when it becomes necessary to carefully enquire into this question, to take nothing for granted, but go step by step through the teaching of Scripture on the subject, one can only rise from the inquiry without the shadow of a doubt as to the teaching of the Word of God on the subject.

The solemn teaching of Scripture is that the punishment of the unbeliever is eternal, that it is conscious, never-ending torment in the lake of fire. We bow to its teaching, and can only pray that writer and readers may be stirred up to more diligent whole-hearted zeal in the Gospel, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom. 1:16).

If this meets the eye of an unbeliever, may he without a moment’s delay turn to the Lord and trust Him as the Saviour, who died on that cross of shame, that the way of life and salvation might be righteously made plain to “whosoever will.” What a glorious gospel!

But remember it is the Saviour who warned His hearers solemnly about hell.

Is He your Saviour on the Mercy Seat, or will He be your Judge at the Great White Throne? Will everlasting life or eternal punishment be your portion? I beseech you to answer these questions in God’s holy presence. You may be saved, and saved now.

  “Christ Jesus . . . gave Himself a ransom for ALL” (1 Tim. 2:6).
  “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9).
  “Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).