Lately I’ve been reading the thoughts of several people who have been engaged in a discussion over whether or not God’s punishment of the unrighteousness will be eternal or temporary.

One thing is clear in this discussion, and that is that there seems to be a consensus that in the end, God will relent and end the punishment/suffering of those who rejected Him in this life, and ultimately permit them to join the righteous in heaven.

I should point out that this discussion is among Evangelical believers of primarily Baptist and Pentecostal faiths. Traditionally, both of these camps have held to the belief that God will punish the wicked for all eternity, yet something has apparently changed in how they interpret scripture today, at least according to the discussion participants.

It would seem that there is now a new level of consciousness, or awareness in the church that because God is a God of love, he could not possibly have meant that forever is, well, forever.

It’s as though we are replaying the serpent in the garden where the serpent tells Eve “you shall not die“. [1]

To our carnal minds, the notion that a God of love could meet out such punishment just doesn’t compute. We recoil at the very thought that God would somehow justify sending one of His creation to eternal suffering.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this very thing in 2nd Thessalonians, chapter one. The church at Thessalonica was under severe persecution at this time, with their patience and faith being sorely tested. Paul wrote to these persecuted believers to let them know that they had not been forgotten, neither by himself or by all of the churches. [2]

He went on to say that it was a “righteous thing” with God to ‘pay back’ those that persecuted them when Jesus returns from heaven. What is this ‘payback’ that Paul speaks of?

Pauls said that the Lord Jesus would return “in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God,and that do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ“. [3]

Does this sound to you like the gentle Jesus born in a manger? The Jesus often portrayed as a shepherd carrying a lost lamb on His shoulders? I submit to you that this is the resurrected Christ, coming as conquering King of Kings!

That’s not the worst of it however. Paul then goes on to say that those he just mentioned “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power“. [4]

How long is “everlasting”? While our finite minds struggle to comprehend the magnitude of such a length of time, in fact it means for the rest of eternity. There will never be an end to it.

For those that see the words “everlasting destruction” as a contradiction, Paul is not saying here that the unrighteousness will be annihilated because if they were their punishment would not be “everlasting”.

Annihilation only takes a second to accomplish, then it’s done. If someone is doomed to “everlasting destruction” however, as Paul states here, there must therefore be an everlasting existence.

If we are to take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, we have no choice but to accept it for what is says. And what it plainly says is that unbelievers do not get a second chance, nor do they ever come to an end of their suffering and punishment.

There really is nothing to discuss here, unless one wishes to debate the validity of God’s Word. The judgements of God are fair, just, and righteous. How can this be so if God is love?

One need look no further than the Cross of Calvary to find God’s perfect justification. To reject the sacrifice of the Eternal Son of God is an act worthy of everlasting separation from God.

That is the Word of God. The unchangeable Word of God.

End of discussion.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

[1] Genesis 3:4

[2] 2nd Thessalonians 1:4

[3] 2nd Thessalonians 1:8

[4] 2nd Thessalonians 1:9

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