Some Christians believe in annihilationism, that is, that those who do not receive Jesus will not suffer in  hell, but will actually cease to exist.

But Matthew 25:46, plain as day, says that people will be punished forever if they are not saved.  It would be hard to reconcile annihilationism with these words of Jesus.  In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem wrote, “The Bible only needs to say something once for it to be true.”

Eternal punishment in hell is a terrible doctrine, indeed.  But if the Bible teaches it, then we must believe it, and hard as this seems, learn to love it in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, non-vengeful way.

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6 thoughts on “If the Bible Says it Once, It’s True

  1. I notice that you’re a calvinist (pardon the label), and I know they’re are many shades to that stance, but I can’t help but think that if this doctrine is literally true- God not only doesn’t give people the choice of whether or not to believe, he tortures them forever for not doing what they can’t.

    If this were true, God is not only worse than every rapist, pedophile, murderer, and thief, he’s the author of all evil.

    It wouldn’t be satan we needed saving from. It’d be God.

    But I’m sure you’ve thought of this before. And I’m sure its been brought up several times in the course of unending conversations.

    If God is so concerned with his glory that he’d crush us all beneath his heel to prove his power- he’s no better than the pagan gods I choose him over.

  2. David,

    I have thought of these things before. And so have thousands of years of Christians. As for God being the author of evil, I’ve addressed that elsewhere: https://jamespruch.wordpress.com/articles/how-can-a-holy-god-ordain-evil-to-exist/

    As for “God not only [giving] people the choice of whether or not to believe, he tortures them forever for not doing what they can’t,” the only thing I’ll offer right now is this: It merely shows how depraved humans really are. Our inability to believe in, honor, and love God does not alleviate our guilt. Instead, this only increases our guilt. Take this analogy: My inability to perform at a professional level in figure skating does not make me worthy to win a gold medal. Instead, my inability only increases my unworthiness of even walking within 1,000 miles of that Olympic skating rink with the intention to compete.

    Can I ask you, “How can a holy, just God ALLOW people to go to heaven in spite of all the sin they have committed?” The single verse is that is re-quoted than any other in the Bible is Exodus 34:6-7, “The LORD passed before Moses and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

    No doubt you’ll only focus on the last part of that verse. But pay attention to the fact that God is “slow to anger.” It takes a lot to piss God off (namely, a life of unrepentant sin). But I wouldn’t want to worship a God who never gets angry at sin. I wouldn’t want to worship a God who doesn’t punishes unrepentant sinners. If God allows all kinds of evil to happen without penalty, that would mean God is not righteous or holy. A God who lets everyone off scott-free without penalty is no God at all. He would be, in fact, quite disgusting. Further, you will no doubt find all the “terrible” things God did in the Old Testament, but you stubbornly fail to recognize the hundreds of times he gives mercy and grace to ill-deserving men and women.

    Dave, you have an entitlement issue. You believe that you are entitled to a box of suckers and golden stars, when, in fact, you don’t see that you are a rebel, and deserve nothing but condemnation. But there is grace in the Lord Jesus. He took the penalty that you and I deserve by dying on the cross. Oh what a provision! There is no grace with one of your “pagan gods,” Dave. If you fail them, they will punish you. Think about all the things you worship and how miserable you are when you don’t perform well enough for one of those particular gods (i.e. sex, money, job, etc).

    When was the last time sex, money, power, friendship, food, or a thousand other things died and sacrificed themselves FOR YOU, Dave? Do your pagan gods serve and love you, or do they use you and manipulate you and depress you? And even if they do die, they won’t do it willingly and joyfully, and they won’t victoriously rise from the dead like my God did.

  3. My problem is that 1) God foreknew all things and God made mankind anyway, knowing that it’d fall 2) I’m therefore condemned to a sinful nature in a sinful world based on the actions of Adam 3) I’m held responsible for living according to the nature that I’ve been born with, in the world I live, for another’s actions.

    Add to that the calvinist perspective that my actions are foreordained, and layer upon layer I’m absolved of any responsibility.

    And its not that I want everyone to go to heaven per se, but I do believe that eternal torture for finite sins violates goodness.

    My son might be a murderer, and I might need to execute him according to the law and for the common good. But when I set him on fire while maintaining his life- that’s evil.

    And I believe in Jesus. And I believe he wouldn’t do that. Being the Image of the Father- I don’t believe Father God would do it either.

  4. David, what kind of belief in Jesus do you have? I’d be interested in hearing.

    I ask because the Bible, which is the word of God, the revelation of Jesus from start to finish, tells us what we should believe IF we believe in Jesus. If the Bible teaches something, we should believe it. It’s not a book that you can just pick doctrines out of, buffet style. It certainly speaks of eternal punishment. And it plainly shows God’s justice and righteousness in causing that to happen.

  5. Jesus, son of God- unblemished, undimmed by sin, unthwarted by death. You know, the fairly standard fundamentalist view of Christ. He was before all things, and in all things, and nothing exists without his power.

    And Him I worship.

    But the bible I think is held in a state of reverence, that wasn’t quite intended. It wasn’t written as an authoritative collection of works (the NT at least). Paul, of course believed everything he wrote, and expected to be obeyed on the issues he ruled on, but I see a distinct cultural influence.

    If Paul lived during the abolitionist days he would have been anti-slavery, but being a citizen of rome during the first century he sent Onesimus back, hoping that he’d not be punished. Same thing with the “woman be ye silent” stuff.

    And I also think eternal punishment very well might mean second death (the more popular phrase of jesus I think), where that which lives truly dies- a soul intended to live in glory for all time, eternally snuffed out. That to me would be an eternal sort of punishment.

  6. And if God can do things that for a man would be evil, isn’t that the ultimate defamation of goodness? Doesn’t that completely obliterate what goodness means? The word ‘good,’ the choice to do ‘good,’ the value of good over evil, becomes nothing.

    It is relativism supreme.

    I think God is good because he would never do evil (he cannot sin, he cannot lie), not because when he lies its ok because he has the power to obliterate me if I contradict.

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