Our arguing within the church only serves to cause damage I feel.

I am a conservative Christian, however as I read the entire Bible verse by verse and then compare it to the Greek, I can see why there are so many divisions in the church. I used to vehemently argue against moderates, who taught that the Atonement covered everyone...whether they accepted it or not...and that hell was not eternal, but temporal. I used to think "How can they be so blinded?" Then I began researching the terms hell, lake of fire, hades and so on. Some passages obviously are dealing with either the grave or The Valley of Hinnom, however other passages could go either way. The doctrine of Hell was not even taught, apparently, in the early church. It came after Constantine (supposedly). My point: I still believe, as did C.S. Lewis, that there will be some form of punishment for those not in Christ, however I can understand why godly, intelligent men, can be divided over the issue.

Our arguing within the church only serves to cause damage I feel. Your thoughts?

My response is in Green:

It depends on what we are arguing about. If is has to do with punishment, or salvation, then I disagree, I think it is too important. The Bible tells us to correct, rebuke and teach.

For example the idea of atonement for everyone whether they choose it or not. That is dangerous, because it not only goes against God's word but it says that no one need preach the gospel and no one need even believe in Jesus Christ. That is wrong!!!

(Matthew 25:41-43 NIV) {41} "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. {42} For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, {43} I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

This passage makes it very clear that not everyone will spend eternity in heaven. There are many more which are just as clear. To preach a gospel (which means good news) that says that everyone will be saved is wrong and is no good news at all because it will damn many souls to hell.

The idea that hell was not taught in the early church does not hold water either. We need to study the Bible more and less what other people have written and say. Look at what Jesus said:

(Luke 16:19-31 NIV)
{19} "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. {20} At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores {21} and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
{22} "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. {23} In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. {24} So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
{25} "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. {26} And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
{27} "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, {28} for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'
{29} "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
{30} "'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
{31} "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

The rich man was in hell (no matter what you choose to call it) and was in torment. This is Jesus' teaching. It can leave no doubt. Plus Jesus mentioned punishment and judgment more than He did heaven. Now people can claim that the early church didn't teach about hell, but the Bible clearly does. Maybe they didn't teach about it because everyone already knew about it, or maybe the scholars are wrong and they did indeed teach about hell. I agree there are different terms used for hell and for the grave, but they are all consistent in thought. The Valley of Hinnom for example was the city dump. It was were the garbage was burned. It burned day and night. It was a perfect illustration of what hell was.

I can understand how godly intelligent men can disagree on some points which are open to interpretation, however, I can't see how someone who has Christ in their heart and believes the Bible could believe that everyone will be saved or that there is no punishment for those who do not accept Christ. You have to throw away a good portion of the Bible to believe either of those.

No we must contend for the faith, or we will be no witnesses at all.

Thank you for your comments.



E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)

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