ETERNAL TORMENT OR NO?
A BIBLICAL REFUTATION OF A DOCTRINAL ERROR TAUGHT BY JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES AND SEVENTH DAY ADVENTISTS
In the following pages, I will attempt to lay down a clear and concise teaching of whether there is a place of eternal torment that awaits those who reject Jesus Christ in this life.
I have received a study by a man who denies that there is a literal Hell and a literal eternal torment despite what the Bible appears to say to the contrary.
Mr. Turvey wrote to me in reply to my three part study "The Days of Noah", and asked me if I would read his study that he wrote in 1999. This is the e-mail he sent me:
I have your article, "The Days Of Noah" and, having been a Baptist for the first half of my life, I understand your belief in everlasting hell fire, and the traditional take on Lazarus and the rich man. For much of my time in the Baptist church I questioned the teachings, but was never given answers from the bible. Since leaving the Baptist denomination, I have discovered the answers I was seeking and, for the most part, they were astounding. I learned how to do in-depth bible studies, and in 1999 published a study titled "Lazarus And The Rich Man." Whether the story from Luke 16 is a parable is a moot point. More important is where Abraham and Lazarus are or were, and why the rich man was asking for a drop of water. The Luke account does not begin in the gospels, but in the book of Genesis, and when studied from the point of view of the bible, it's astounding. I'd like to email you "Lazarus And The Rich Man" but, as is my habit, I won't send it unless you ask. I'll be waiting for your request. Bro. Les A servant of the only true and living God
I replied to his e-mail and told him that I would be willing to look at his study. In his study, Mr. Turvey seems to present the standard arguments that those who adhere to this doctrine of soul sleep or total annihilation give in opposition to that which was taught by Jesus Christ.
In this and the pages that follow, I will attempt to answer the arguments presented by Mr. Turvey while still trying to maintain continuity in the study.
I will identify Mr. Turvey's comments and observations by using the Cooper Black font. My comments and observations will be written in the font that you see now, and references to Scripture verses and other quotations will be in the Arial Black font. I pray that the reader will be blessed by these next few pages.
Let us look at Jesus' account in Luke 16 concerning Lazarus and the rich man:
Luk 16:23 And in
hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off,
and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 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.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And 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.
27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Reply to LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN, a philosophical treatise by Leslie A Turvey
By Lance W Rowe
After a brief introduction, Mr. Turvey opens his study with these words:
Before we see what the story says consider this scenario: A saintly mother dies and goes to heaven. Her son, for whom she has shed many tears during his life of debauchery, goes to hell. She loves her son and longs to have him with her, but there's no way either can pass to the other. If the usual interpretation of Lazarus and the rich man is true, those who preach a heaven-hell theory have to admit the mother can see her son forever tormented in the inferno of hell, and hear his unbearable screams of agony, and be helpless to do anything for him. That doesn't seem like a nice way to spend eternity.
As is the case with most who wrestle with the scriptures in an attempt to make them say what they want them to say, Mr. Turvey appeals to the reader's emotional side rather than merely sharing what the Word of God says. Like the Serpent in the Garden, when he tempted Eve, Mr. Turvey also appeals to the reader's emotions…
Mr. Turvey would ask the reader, Did Jesus REALLY teach about HELL in LUKE 16? Does it make sense that a loving God would allow a saintly mother to view her son in torment through all eternity?
Satan asked Eve: Did God REALLY say that you would DIE? NO, He actually knows that you will be like Him when you eat that fruit!
RIGHT UP FRONT, I NEED TO CLARIFY THAT I AM NOT INFERRING THAT MR. TURVEY IS IN LEAGUE WITH SATAN TO DECEIVE PEOPLE. But the same type of faulty reasoning used by the serpent was used by Mr. Turvey in this instance.
The flaw in Mr. Turvey's "logic" should be obvious to any thinking person. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, we see that the rich man is painfully aware of Lazarus' position of rest in Abraham's Bosom, but there is no indication that Lazarus is aware of the rich man's plight.
The account is about what the rich man was experiencing, not Lazarus. Notice that the dialogue is between Abraham and the rich man, and that Lazarus was merely the subject of the discussion, but he was not involved in the discussion. The picture that the Lord intended to show was that even in Hell, the Rich man was unrepentant and thought that Lazarus should serve him.
The saintly mother won't be aware of the torment her ungodly son is experiencing. There are no tears in Heaven. There is no memory of those things that are wicked and vile, so there won't be any memory of her son.
Whether he is burning in Hell or annihilated forever, if there was any memory in heaven of those things, there would be tears that would be shed. A mother's loss for her son, however it occurs is an occasion for grief. A mother who spent eternity realizing she will never ever see her son would shed many tears, as well.
Teachers like Mr. Turvey who wrestle with the scriptures to get them to say what their "reasoning" would have them to say fail to think the whole matter through. They end their arguments with statements like we have just seen: "That doesn't seem like a nice way to spend eternity."
The simple fact of the matter is that in Hell, part of the torment will be that these eternal souls who had rejected the Truth of the Lord Jesus Christ will be painfully aware of all they have forfeited in exchange for their momentary pleasures on earth. It doesn't matter what seems nice or unpleasant to us…the fact is that God declares unequivocally,
55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:
and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to
our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So often men try to recreate God in their own image, and they try to measure His Justice by their own twisted idea of what justice is; or they try to measure His Grace by what they think it should be, or they try to define His Love by their warped idea of what love should be.
That is the problem that Mr. Turvey and others like him are confronted with. They don't understand the Absolute Sovereignty of God. If He warns us against spending eternity in Hell fire and torment, we shouldn't wrestle with the idea…we should hear Him and respond.
Mr. Turvey and his colleagues cause people to judge God and to declare that if there is a place of eternal torment, then God isn't the God of Love that He says He is. A more fitting scripture cannot be found for those of Mr. Turvey's ilk than this:
Rom 9:20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Mr. Turvey continues:
The apostle Peter wrote, "...no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20)."
William F. Beck in his "New Testament in the Language of Today" says this of Peter's injunction, "Understand this first that no one can explain any written Word of God as he likes, because it never was the will of a human being that brought us God's Word, but the Holy Spirit moved holy men to say what God told them."
A gentleman whose memory I hold in high esteem used to say, "Let the bible interpret itself."
We're told how this is done in Isaiah 28: 10, "...precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little." This is the only way to properly determine the meaning of Lazarus and the rich man.
Mr. Turvey quotes William F. Beck, but in his opening statement just discussed, he seems to go against what William Beck said: "Understand this first that no one can explain any written Word of God as he likes…" Mr. Turvey's words "That doesn't seem like a nice way to spend eternity" appear to set the stage for him to interpret the Word of God as he prefers it to be.
Under the heading DID JESUS MEAN WHAT HE SAID? Mr. Turvey writes this:
Most assuredly he did but he didn't mean what most people assume. So what did Jesus mean? Jesus said a rich man, clothed in purple and fine linen, dined well every day (Luke 16:19).
He also told of a beggar named Lazarus who laid at the rich man's gate desiring to be fed with the crumbs from the rich man's table (vss 20-21).
Jesus then told what happened to the two. He said, "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 (vs 22)."
It's important to realize what isn't written in the bible is often as important as what is. Jesus did Not say Lazarus went to heaven when he died. He also did Not say the rich man went to hell.
After this last statement, Mr. Turvey wrestles much with the scriptures to make his point. I will address his statements that follow here, but I will go in somewhat of a different order than he did, for the following reason.
He wrote: "Jesus did Not say Lazarus went to heaven when he died. He also did Not say the rich man went to hell." I agree with Mr. Turvey that Jesus did not say that Lazarus went to heaven when he died. But I disagree with him when he says that Jesus also did not say the rich man went to Hell.
Now here is where Mr. Turvey begins to do some serious wresting with the scriptures in an effort to prove his point and to make Jesus out to be a liar. You can almost hear the serpent repeat his words: "Yea, has God really said…?"
"And it came to pass that...the rich man also died and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom (Luke 16:22-23)."
The first thing I would like the reader to consider is that Jesus Christ referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth and the Life. If He is TRUTH personified as He claimed Himself to be, why would he tell stories that would cause multitudes of people to believe in a place that does not exist? If the Bible is true, why would it speak of torment associated with a place called Hades, Gehenna, or the Lake of fire, if it was not intended to be understood as such? There is a simplicity here that must not be overlooked.
Anyone reading the gospels and the teaching of the Bible in Mark 9:43-47, Matthew 5:22-30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 18:9, Matt 23:15,33, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:19-31,James 3:6, 2 Pet 2:4, as they refer to Hell would walk away with the understanding that there is a place of eternal torment that awaits the unrepentant sinner after he or she dies.
Throughout the history of Christendom, the existence of a place of torment called Hell was a given. In the 1800's many heretical offshoots of Christianity began to spring forth. Some professed that those who embraced their heresies would eventually become gods (Mormonism), Some professed that those who embraced their fallacies would have to abstain from certain foods and observe certain days to be saved (Seventh Day Adventists), while others professed that those who embraced their heresies would deny that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh (Jehovah's Witnessses).
There were more than just Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses that sprang up during this time. Most of them denied the deity of Jesus Christ or the existence of Hell.
Mormons taught that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers. Mormonism introduced different degrees of "heaven" that one would go to, depending on his or her level of understanding and acceptance of the Mormon faith. They would baptize people on behalf of the dead who had died without knowing the Mormon "revelation".
The Seventh Day Adventists taught that there was no hell, that the dietary laws of Leviticus were still in effect, that the mark of the Beast spoken of in Revelation was actually Sunday Worship, and that it was still required for Christians to worship on the Jewish Sabbath. They also taught that Jesus Christ was Michael the Archangel, putting Him on the same level as Satan, who was once the chief of God's creation, until he was cast out of heaven for his pride.
The Jehovah's Witnesses actually were an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists, and also taught that there was no hell, that Jesus Christ was not God manifest in the flesh, but that He was actually Michael the Archangel, and that there was no such thing as being Born Again except for a few select people.
These heretical offshoots of Christianity took on the Name of Christian, and brought in many damnable heresies, basically siding with the serpent in saying "Yea, hath God REALLY said…?" and using many words and arguments in their effort to wrestle with the Word of God, in order to corrupt the followers of Jesus from the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ, as Paul wrote in his second epistle to the Corinthians:
2Co 11:3 But I fear, lest
by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds
should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
1Ti 4:1 Now the Spirit
speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; (Mormonism's
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy (Jehovah's witnesses - in altering the Bible); having their conscience seared with a hot iron (Unconditional Eternal Securitists);
3 Forbidding to marry, (Catholism)and commanding to abstain from meats (Catholicism and Seventh Day Adventism), which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.
Having said all that, I will now attempt to address Mr. Turvey's philosophical treatise concerning the Rich man's Destiny before we deal with other areas of his error.
Mr. Turvey makes the following statement:
Every old testament reference
to hell comes from to the Hebrew word
I could go further into his treatise, but I think it should suffice to deal with this particular place, since all who think as Mr. Turvey does present basically the same argument, and cause many unlearned Christians to stumble in perplexity at this wrestling with words.
It is correct that Every Old Testament reference to Hell comes from the Hebrew word "Sheol", and Strong's concordance defines this word as the grave, or the pit, as well as Hell, or the world of the dead.
DON'T LET THESE FOLLOWING FACTS ESCAPE YOUR ATTENTION!
What Mr. Turvey fails to advise the reader is that there are a few words in the Old Testament that are used regarding the final destination of those who die. Sheol is only one of those words.
Mr. Turvey and others like him would have the reader to believe that every place the word "Sheol" is translated as "hell", it should be better translated as "grave". But they don't supply the earnest seeker of truth with all the facts.
The fact is that in 62 verses of the Old Testament, another Hebrew Word is used to denote the grave, or a specific place of burial. In 13 more places, we see the root of the word previously mentioned used to denote the grave.
So in 75 places in the Old Testament, we can see that there is a specific word used to denote a grave or a burial place. People like Mr. Turvey don't ever seem to mention those facts. They try to keep the reader focused on the word Sheol, and infer through their omission of facts that Sheol is the exclusive word for "Grave". They will point the reader to several places in the Old Testament where Sheol is translated as "Grave", such as these:
1Ki 2:6 Do therefore according to thy wisdom, and let not his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.
Job 7:9 As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more.
Job 21:13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.
In each instance, they will show you that the word translated as "grave" is the Hebrew word "Sheol", and then they will proceed to insist that "Grave" is all Sheol really means. They will dance the unsuspecting Christian around a host of Greek words, like Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus, and explain that none of them actually mean "Hell" as they have been represented to mean.
Never will the word "Qeburah" or the word "Qeber" (the true Hebrew words meaning "grave" or a place of burial) come into the discussion, and after showing a lot of scriptures where sheol is translated as "grave" in the bible, they will then proceed to appeal to your emotional side, and tell you that a God of Love would never sentence a person to spend eternity in torment.
But if they truly did stick to the formula of "precept upon precept, line upon line", they would understand that the Love of God is what caused Him to humble Himself and take upon Himself the form of a servant and to dwell among us, so that He could warn us about the fact that we are eternal souls, created in His Image, and are destined to live forever. He didn't come to fill us full of fairy tales about places that don't really exist, and events that will never happen…He came to warn us to choose wisely in this life where we are going to spend eternity. THAT'S THE LOVE OF GOD!
Our two newly discovered Hebrew words are defined as follows:
H6900 qebu^ra^h BDB Definition: 1) grave, burial, burial site 1a) grave 1b) burial
H6913 qeber / qibra^h BDB Definition: 1) grave, sepulchre, tomb
What is really wonderful about these words is that there is never any "gray area" as to what is meant when they are used. When you read the passages in which they are used, you have no doubt that they are speaking of the grave or a graveyard or a tomb. Here are a few examples of where they are used.
Num 19:16 And whosoever
toucheth one that is slain with a sword in the open fields, or a dead body,
or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean
Jdg 8:32 And Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the sepulcher of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abi-ezrites.
2Sa 3:32 And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
As the reader is beginning to see, although Mr. Turvey professes to abide by the premise in Isaiah 28:10, "...precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little," he actually appears to pick and choose what lines and what precepts he wishes to deal with!
After he states "
Every old testament reference to hell comes from to the Hebrew word
Mr. Turvey writes:
There's at least eight
new testament references to hell from the Greek word
Mr. Turvey's method of eisegesis is the classic example of so many other teachers who wrestle with Jesus' words concerning Hell and the torment which awaits the unrepentant sinner. He jumps from the Old Testament word "sheol", and mentions that Hades is the Greek equivalent of the word Sheol, and then he will explain how the word Hades originated:
The history of hell as a place of punishment, temporary or eternal, comes mainly from the apocrypha and from Persian writings. The Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) popularized the concept when he wrote "The Divine Comedy."
I don't know how this would escape any thinking person, but the Italian Poet Dante Alighieri was not the first to "popularize the concept"… Jesus taught and warned His listeners about Hell 1200+ years before Dante ever lived! Mark, Luke, Matthew, James, 2 Peter, Jude, and Revelation are NOT the apocrypha, nor are they writings from Persia, and each one of these books of the New Testament deal with Hell as being a place of punishment.
After Mr. Turvey mentions "Hades", "gehenna", and "Tartaros", he then sums up his philosophy in this way:
We also know the rich man is not in a place reserved for the devil and his angels. Since he was a wealthy man and is not referred to as a criminal - except for his criminal lack of compassion toward Lazarus - his body would not have been thrown into the garbage dump.
No doubt he had prepared for his funeral with a rather elaborate sepulchre and there, as Luke 16:22 says, he was buried: in hell. Several modern English versions of the bible specifically identify the rich man's grave as hades.
This is where Mr. Turvey and others like him are shown to be either bald faced liars, or are merely parroting what they have heard from other false teachers, and as a result perpetuate the lie that is being taught.
I can't say whether they are willingly seeking to deceive those that they teach, or if they are just deceived themselves, and are merely repeating what they have been taught, but it is here where the line will be drawn.
Here in this paragraph, Mr. Turvey equates the "sepulcher" with Hades. And it is here where the false teachers must be confronted with the Truth.
Just as we have seen that there are a couple of words in the Old Testament that deal specifically with the grave, the same is true in the New Testament as well.
Perhaps Mr. Turvey and others like him would be surprised to discover that the Greek word for Sepulchre, or grave is NOT Hades, Gehenna, or Tarturos, but in actuality it is the word "Mnemeion":
G3419 mne¯meion mnay-mi'-on From G3420; a remembrance, that is, cenotaph (place of interment): - grave, sepulchre, tomb.
This word is used 42 times in the New Testament, and 7 times a deriviative of that word is used, and in each instance, it is obvious that the grave is being referred to.
One such example is in John 5:28:
Joh 5:28 Marvel not at
this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves
shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
As we have already seen, Jesus taught about a place called Gehenna, and elsewhere He referred to Hades as in the case of the rich man.
Yet here in John 5:28, He mentions another place (Mnemeion) from which the dead will rise at the time of Judgment.
Now, if there is no distinction between where the rich man was (Hades) and the grave, surely Jesus would have used the proper term for "grave" (Mnemeion) in Luke 16.
Or, he could have used the word "taphos", which is used seven times in the New Testament.
G5028 taphos taf'-os Masculine from G2290; a grave (the place of interment): - sepulchre, tomb.
The following verse is one instance where "taphos" is used and translated as "sepulchers":
Mat 23:27 Woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited
sepulchers (taphos), which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are
within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Again at this point I would like to quote Mr. Turvey so his error doesn't get overlooked:
No doubt he had prepared for his funeral with a rather elaborate sepulchre and there, as Luke 16:22 says, he was buried: in hell. Several modern English versions of the bible specifically identify the rich man's grave as hades.
At the risk of seeming redundant, I want to make sure that the Truth isn't lost to the reader…If the rich man's abode that Jesus was referring to would have simply been his sepulcher, Jesus would have used the word "Taphos" or the word "Mnemeion".
At this point it should be very obvious that Hades and the grave are definitely two different places.
Only Mr. Turvey's pride or his unrepentant desire to deceive the unlearned Christian would prevent him from conceding that his whole premise is built upon flawed logic. Mr. Turvey and others of his school of theology do not rightly divide the word of Truth…they twist it to conform to their own preconceived ideas, and back up their arguments with an appeal to the hearer's emotions.
He closes his treatise with this: It's amazing that those who claim to teach the gospel - the good news - include in their message the unbelievably bad news of eternal torment in an ever-burning hell fire. The bible has good news, and good news.
Again, he resorts to judging God in the light of how he thinks God should be. Jesus taught the gospel, the good news, and included several times in His teaching the warning that there was a place of eternal torment waiting for all those who rejected the Truth that He taught.
I concur with Mr. Turvey that the Good news is that Jesus died, and resurrected, so that everyone might have eternal life, and that NONE would have to experience Torment for eternity because of their sins.
The other good news is that Jesus never twisted scripture so that he would sound good to His hearers. He never appealed to their emotions or to the flawed logic of men's reasonings in order to whitewash the Truth. I thank God that He ALWAYS spoke the TRUTH.
It's about time that teachers like MR. TURVEY repent of their lies, and begin to tell the truth and to warn people to flee from the flames of Hell! It should be obvious now to the honest reader and to Mr. Turvey that there is a difference both in the Old Testament and the New Testament between the Grave and Sheol or Hades.
What Jesus Taught was the TRUTH. We don't have to wrestle with the Truth that He spoke. The Devil would love you to believe that there is no Hell, and there is no place of eternal torment awaiting the unrepentant sinner.
So now that we have exposed the lie that is being perpetuated by equating Hades or Sheol with the grave, let us see what the Bible actually teaches concerning Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaros.
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