"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Biblical Proof There Is No Eternal Torment in Hell

The title of this post is an abbreviation of a much longer title of a book written in 1638 entitled The Torments of Hell, the Foundation and Pillars Thereof, Searched, Discovered, Shaken and Removed, together with, Infallible Proofs that There Is Not To Be a Punishment After this Life for Any to Endure that Shall Never End.

Whew!

And just think, some people think my 28-minute sermons are too long!

Anyway, the author of the book mentioned above is Samuel Richardson  (1602-1656), the pastor of the First Particular Baptist Church of London, England.  Samuel was one of fifteen Baptist pastors who signed The First London Confession of Faith in 1644, which in my opinion, is the earliest and best Baptist confession of faith. It's earlier than the Presbyterian Westminster Confession, and it is better than the Second London Confession of 1689.

Enough dry history. Now the punch.

Samuel Richardson and other reformed London Baptists during the 18th century did not hold to a belief in the eternal conscious torment of the wicked in hell. They believed in conditional immortality, a view held by many early church fathers as well. Samuel Richardson saw the Scriptures to teach that God's judgment for the wicked meant death. In other words, he believed the wicked perish.

You can read Sammy for yourself.

But for those with a cup of coffee and just a few minutes to read, I will post just five of the twenty infallible proofs that Samuel Richardson gives from Scripture that teach the wicked perish in hell (die) as a result of God’s judgment on their sins. You may be unfamiliar with Samuel Richardson and his views on conditional immortality (as well as Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and others with similar views), but you have to appreciate Samuel Richardson’s high view of Scripture.

Sammy says:


1. The doctrine of eternal punishing is contrary to the Word of God

The doctrine of a punishment never to end is contrary to the word of God, because it maintains
that the wicked shall have eternal life.

If man was to live forever, why was the flaming sword set to keep the way of the tree of life?

Lest he put forth his hand and take of the tree of life, and live forever, Gen. 3:24

No eternal life came by the first Adam. Eternal life came by Jesus Christ, who is the tree of life.

Eternal life is promised and given by Jesus Christ alone.  Eternal life is by Jesus Christ, Rom. 5:21; and, he that eateth of this Bread shall live forever, John 6:58. 

Because I live, ye shall live also, John 14:19.

God sent his Son, that we might live through Him, 1 John 4:9.

Only believers have eternal life.

He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, John 3:36.

Whosoever believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life, John 3:14-15. 

I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, John 10:28.

The wicked abide not forever, 1 John 2:17.

If ye live after the flesh ye shall die. Rom 8:13Him will God destroy, 1 Cor. 3:17.

The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, 1 Cor. 1:18. 2 Thes. 2:10. 

They utterly perish, 2 Pet. 2:12. Luke13:3. 

To their own destruction, 2 Pet. 3:16.

They abide in death, Rom. 6:21-23; 1 John 3:14. 

They shall be destroyed forever, Psalm 42:7.


2. Even the First Man (Adam) Was Not Created with an Inherently Immortal Body

If Adam had not sinned, he would have died; as appears from the following considerations,

Adam had, in his creation, a natural body, 1 Cor. 15:44: that which is natural is not eternal, I Cor. 15:46. 

Adam was of the earth, earthly, I Cor. 15:47-48, therefore mortal and corruptible, I Cor. 15:53-54.

Man in his first being was corporal and visible to be seen; things seen are not eternal. If Adam had stood, he could not have conveyed to us a body immortal, or not dying.

In his Treatise of Heaven, p. 131, Basil says, "If God had given Adam an immortal and unchangeable nature, he had created a god, and not a man."

Augustine, in his Book of Confessions, says, "Because the Lord created man of nothing, therefore he left in man a possibility to return to nothing, if he obeyed not the will of his Maker."

Immortality is not natural to man according to the Scriptures.


3. Christ is not the Author of eternal torment, but the Deliverer from death.

The opinion of a punishment after this life never to end, makes not sin, but Christ, to be the author of the torments of hell and the cause of men's thus suffering.

The Bible states that if  Christ had not come, there would have been no resurrection: and if no resurrection, there could be no suffering of any torment after this life; for if there were no resurrection, men would perish in their graves: that would be their end. 

If Christ be not risen, they which are fallen asleep are perished, I Cor. 15:17, 18. 

That the resurrection came by Jesus Christ is also evident, because Christ says, I am the resurrection, John 11:25. 

By man, that is Christ, came the resurrection, 1 Cor. 15:21, therefore, it is called the resurrection of Christ, 1 Pet.3:21.

Christ is called the first fruits, because He first rose from the dead; after Him others. If Christ had not risen, no man should ever have risen from the dead; therefore it is said, they came out of their graves after His resurrection, Matt. 27:53.

And since Christ is the resurrection, and the cause of it, inasmuch as it came by Him, sure none will deny, that if there had been no resurrection of the dead, there could be no suffering after death, so long as God is God; therefore it follows, if any shall so suffer, Christ is the cause of it, for without Him they could not have lived forever, and therefore could not suffer forever.

And is it not very hard and unreasonable, and contrary to the word, to charge Christ to be the cause of their so suffering? Seeing Christ came in love to the world, John 3:16, to save, and not to destroy, Luke 9:56; Luke 19:10.

He came to save sinners, 1 Tim, 1:15. Luke 4:18.

He rose again for our justification.


4. Fear of eternal torment causes a feeble mind and does not produce love for God.

Freedom from fear causes love; love causes service; the love of Christ constraineth; it tends to the comfort of many, who through weakness of faith give way to Satan's temptations. To fear the torments of hell causes a feeble mind; comfort the feeble minded, 1 Thes. 5:4.

It is a comfort to many, whose children and friends die, and leave no testimony of their conversion, to be free from this fear; for the fear that they are to suffer so great and endless torment, hath saddened and troubled the heart of many a parent and friend. God hath said, He will not contend forever, nor be always wroth; for the spirit would fail before him, and the souls he has made, Isa. 62:16.

Man is not able to dwell with everlasting burnings, Isa. 33:14.

To be in so great a torment as they speak of, without end, ease, and refreshment, the spirit must fail, (a small thing will make the spirit fail;) and if so, trine of endless torment. That doctrine makes men melancholy; it drives them to despair; they know not what to do, and they sever the brittle thread.

Fathers and mothers, in repeated instances in the United States, have murdered their children, lest they should grow up, and commit sin, and be damned. Can a doctrine which produces such dreadful consequences be the doctrine of God?


5. Eternal torment is contrary to the revealed nature of God Himself.

Eternal torment does not correspond with the nature of God. God is love, 1 John 4:16.

It is His nature; there is no anger or fury in love; fury is not in me, Isa. 27:4. 

God wills us to love our enemies, who abuse, wrong, and hate us; much more will God love his enemies, Luke 6:35.

If God should love only them who love him, do not even the publicans the same? Matt. 5:46.

All that is in God is infinite. God is love; his love, therefore, is infinite, without bounds or limits, though we, in our shallowness and narrowness, have often set bounds and limits to that which is infinite. There never was any beginning in God, therefore no beginning of His love.

The infinite blessed God is one and always the same; l am the Lord, I change not, Malachi 3:6.

This love delights in mercy and love, and not in the eternal torments of hell, or in the punishing of sin; that is, his strange work, Isa. 28:21.

Christ died to answer the law which we transgressed. Christ did not purchase the love of God; He loved us before the world began, and ever will, John 13:1.

God was never destitute of love. Christ saith, Thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me, John 17:23.

At what shall God be angry, or dissatisfied? God was never angry with Christ nor His people, nor at the being of sin, nor at Christ's taking our sins upon Him; for He laid them on him, even the iniquity of us all, Isa. 53:6. 
.
It is not suitable to the mercifulness of a father towards his child, of a creator to his creature, the work of his hands, to impose so great a punishment without end, upon any of them: that would be worse than to forsake the works of his hands, and is contrary to Psalm 145:8-9.

Your heavenly Father is merciful, Luke 6:36, rich in mercy, Eph. 2:4.

The Lord is gracious, of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. All thy works shall praise thee, and thy saints shall bless thee, Psalm 145:8-10. 

He is good to all, he despiseth not any, Job 36:5. 

In Summary

Samuel Richardson states, "In reading the Scriptures, we are not to understand any text in such a sense as is not plain in Scripture, or is contrary to Scripture, or contrary to the law of nature, or contrary to the general goodness of God to mankind, or contrary to the gracious spirit and mercifulness of a saint, or contrary to the mind of Christ, which he declared when on earth, or contrary to the fruits of the blessed spirit, the nature of the love, goodness, and mercy of God; or in such a sense as shall tend to contradict or lessen the glory of God, or lessen the greatness and riches of his grace; for it is not to be imagined that God, who is only wise, should do and teach contrary things.

I am sure there is no inconvenience to the gospel, nor any dishonor to God, nor any grief, nor any obstacle to the faith and love of any good man, nor any discouragement to any man in serving God, that there is not to be a punishment for any to endure, that shall never end.

Nothing can be more plain than that which has been said, to anyone who will agree to the truth.

Some will not agree to anything though ever so plain and certain, if it is contrary to the tradition of their fathers: their way is their folly; and their posterity approve their sayings, Psalm 49:13. 

Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Isa. 53:1.

Some believed the things that were spoken, and some believed not, Acts 28:24. 

They make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn away the just for a thing of naught., Isa. 29:21.

O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle, Psalm 140:7

So be it.”

Conclusion

Samuel Richardson gives a total of  20 infallible proofs from Scripture why eternal torment in hell is not the biblical teaching of God's judgment for the wicked.

My purpose this October 2017, the 500th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses on the Door of Wittenburg Castle, is to show that many saints of God, erudite men and women who have believed the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, have never believed the Bible teaches eternal torment in hell.

Martin Luther was one.

Samuel Richardson was another.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is immortal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

20 comments:

RRR said...

Brother Wade,
I was glad to see this subsequent post on the issue. Thank you again for the time and effort you put into these provocative messages.

I was glad to see the post arrive, but I was disappointed that the proposition by you, Luther, Richardson, and others mentioned who have a common conclusion on this matter was not more substantive because:
1. The proposals seem to be based on such weak premises which are terrifically susceptible
to their being disputed by Scripture.
2. There seems to be minimal basis for your proposition in comparison to the huge amount of
support for the contrary.
3. To my view, this proposition seems to inaccurately assess the values and perspective of
God as portrayed in the comprehensive context of His Word.

One thing that I am learning as you teach me more about these historic "experts: and their ideologies, like Luther, is, they are not as smart as I had thought they were. I am glad I have not invested a lot of time studying their writings and certainly am not motivated to do so based on this insight you have given us.

I know you realize that I certainly do not want to suggest that I am right and you and everyone with a different view are wrong, rather to say that I have a different opinion.

I promised beforehand not to hijack the responses so I will not say more, but do look forward to comments by others and your response to them.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

Appreciate your comment. I’m unfamiliar with the “huge amount” of support to the contrary. I will be addressing the two texts that seem to imply at first glance eternal “torment,” and will address those. The preponderance of Scriptures speaks of death, destruction, and perishing.

For example:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

RRR said...

Great! I am going to try to have a mind and heart open to new gems of insight!

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

I noticed you quoted (John 3:16) from King James…”SHOULD NOT perish.”

This interpretation means a person that believed in Jesus could possible perish.

The NLT is more accurate: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

Debbie Kaufman said...

Good post Wade. Interestingly I have always wondered, even as a young girl, reading scripture in the KJV as that was about the only translation available, if there was torment and based it on the same scripture you have given.

I couldn't believe in a hell fire and brimstone. Maybe I was more in tune than I thought?

It seems we have the same teachings passed from generation to generation without checking to see if this traditional teaching is true to the scriptures. That's why I think this generation of young people is good in questioning some of the traditional Baptist teaching, although the idea of ceasing to exist is even scarier than torment isn't it?

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Good point - "will not perish" - is definitely preferred.

Debbie,

"It seems we have the same teachings passed from generation to generation to see if this traditional teaching is true to the Scriptures."

Amen!

RRR said...

Debbie,
I hope you have not previously committed your position on Scripture interpretation based on what was passed on to you by others without examining and searching yourself to form your conclusions. Are your ears being tickled by someone's proclamation that the ancient teachings of Luther and others are now new and contemporary? Is it attractive because it boldly challenges views that dramatically propose a more radical and extreme assessment of God's standards? Sounds to me like the proposition being made in the post is based much on the tradition of Luther, Richardson and other historic "traditional" teachings. Hope you're not rushing to commit to that.

Also, it seems a bit presumptuous on yours and Wade's part, to propose that those of us who hold to a position contrary to the "traditional" view portrayed in this post are simply blind, submissive sheep feeding upon whatever gruel is fed to us by our teachers and "passed down from generation to generation".

Just what is the "tradition" passed on from generation to generation? Yours or mine?

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

On the subject when a person dies; are they in the grave, hell, or heaven?

Have you ever talked to someone who was dead for a while and then came back to life?

Doctors told a wife, “He is alive again but is trying to die and he will if you can’t convince him to live.”

“Please stay with us. I love you. The children love you. They need a father.”

He stopped trying to die.

Years later (on a mission trip) we talked with him. He told of seeing his body on a operating table and things that happened before he felt himself floating. He became excited as he recounted sights and beautiful music; “I’ll never forget the feeling of being loved.”

There is Scripture that says one thing and then another.

“The earth never changes. The sun rises and the sun sets, then hurries around to rise again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5)

Based on this Scripture, Catholic doctrine believed the Sun traveled around the earth. In 1992 a newspaper said the Pope gave permission to believe otherwise.

Jesus said: “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writing of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. So he is the God of the Living, not the dead…” (Mark 12:26-27 NLT)

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

I am quite familiar with out-of-body experiences. I would never doubt or question someone's experience, telling them "It didn't happen." It did - to them. But I would caution people who experienced one to be humble about it, like Paul, who said, "Whether I was in the body or out of the body, in a vision or really there, only God knows." I am reminded of Eutychus, who while listening to Paul preach fell asleep, fell out the window, and died. When the Spirit restored life to him, the early believers went back upstairs and continued listening to Paul. Were Eutychus alive today, he'd probably write a bestselling book on his "out-of-body experience." The early believers listened to the God of the living, not the dead. :)

Debbie Kaufman said...

RRR: This is one of those topics that it doesn't matter. Faith in Christ is the one thing I don't think we can disagree on and would be of the importance you seemingly place on the doctrine of hell.

Yes, I do put stock in what I have written above based on my reading of the Bible but does it matter? Just like end time doctrine, or anything after life, no one can really know for sure until death can we? We can simply go by the pale interpretation of the Bible.

I do know this for sure, Christ is the answer to eternal life. He died on the cross, rose again and is coming back someday.

So it's not heresy to have differing views on hell or end times. Two doctrines I think Baptists have put to much time and energy in, although thankfully that has changed.

RRR said...

Debbie, Thanks for sharing your views on this. We all would agree that the most important, monumental, thing in God's Word is the message of redemption through Jesus Christ alone, but to say that doctrinal debates and coming to the best understanding of these doctrines is unimportant is a pretty scary thing to say, unless we are not teaching and ministering to others, which I am sure does not apply to your case, as it does not apply to mine.

Why This Is Terrifically Important:

1. There are hundreds of cults out there professing to be Christian who have so distorted The Word of God as to force them to create their own versions of The Bible so as to be consistent with the heretical teachings they are proclaiming and propagating. In addition to saying that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, they teach aggressively that the soul stays in the ground until He returns, that there was no resurrection, that believers will not go to heaven, some say that they will be gods themselves.

We true followers of Christ better know what we believe about all doctrine, why we believe it and have a substantive Scriptural basis for what we believe. We better boldly challenge those who distort doctrine and the most important values and truths in The Word. Not to do so, to be complacent, to neglect the study and of The Word and the struggle to ascertain the most credible position on these doctrines is to fail in total service to our Lord and obedience to His command to "go and make disciples". We are required to teach sound doctrine.

2. I am sure you have had occasion to minister to those whose loved ones have passed away. They always have questions whether expressed or non-expressed, about where their loved one went, where they are going when they die. Hopefully, you have lived your life in such a way as to be presumed to be a learned follower of Jesus Christ. When they ask us, assuming that we take the study of God's Word seriously, and sometimes assuming that we are ministers who should know, we need to respond with credible answers that are revealed from The Word of God, not simply respond with some meaningless rhetoric that we think sounds good or certainly not by responding, "Oh, that's not important." Are you kidding me? It is terrifically important to them and should therefore be so to us.

3. God reveals these truths for the very purpose of giving us assurance, equipping us to teach and minister. Of course, it is important. If it is not readily understandable or clear, then it justifies our study, comparison with His other revelations and dialogue with other believers to glean truths from them which we may not have considered previously. I am sure that this is the reason Wade uses so much energy, prayer, effort and hours of his time to share these valuable thoughts and understandings with us. It is why he publishes them publicly on a forum that encourages challenges, debate and progression in our spiritual growth. He KNOWS it is important for him and for us to consider.

I understand if you don't want to discuss it for some unexplained reason, but I do not understand why you would shrug it off by saying, "It is not important."


George Murray said...

Wade,
Thanks for your blog on Conditional Immortality..I may have mentioned before your alignment with John Stott on this topic, He was very clear on the meaning of perish in Jn 3: 16 in expressing eternal life as exclusively the inheritance of those who believe in Christ.

Incidentally.. on your point about 500yr celebration of Luthers break with Rome.. I think you should perhaps make distinction as D'Aubigne does between Reformation in Europe and Reformation in England.. Ours was political more than Religious ..Henry 8th saw to that and God used that to reform the church in England, which never really embraced the Lutherans .Scotland and John Knox were more akin to Europe as the Presbyterian church was and is more prevalent in Scotland than in England..probably another reason why Calvin's Theology was embraced by English baptists like Ch Spurgeon etc...

Wade Burleson said...

George,

Superb point - I shall make that distinction in the future!

Anonymous said...

I also as a child (and adult) could not see how the wages of sin being death equaled eternal conscious torment. It simply isn't what the Bible teaches. Torment? Yes, it is there. But nowhere I can find is it said to be eternal.

I agree: without the Savior you get annihilated. As a hopeful, not dogmatic, universalist I HOPE everyone repents and accepts Christ either in life or the dying process. But unlike a dogmatic universalist, I can also see in the scripture the option of STILL rejecting Him. Anyone that rebellious would be annihilated. If there are any. But I HOPE there are not.

Linda

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

I have friends who are hopeful universal reconciliationists (like you and Paul Young).

Most of my friends believe in eternal conscious torment.

A growing number of friends hold to conditional immortality.

My whole purpose is to get all my friends to talk respectfully instead of teaching dogmatically - at least on this subject.

There's room for disagreement and debate among believers.

Elisabeth B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RRR said...

"My whole purpose is to get all my friends to talk respectfully instead of teaching dogmatically - at least on this subject.:

Wade, I do know that you encourage dialogue and are always graciously open to others offering their opinions on things even when it does not align with yours. Thank you for that.

Still, you are a "teacher" and you fill that role as you "teach" on these posts and your position on matters almost always comes through. It is not like you simply present the concepts to others, but you do identify with positions that you have owned, so to speak.

Point being, your blog is not simply an "information resource" site, but a "teaching" site. As such, it is apparent that you do more than providing discussion for debate. You have considerable influence over many of your blog followers who tend to assume the views to which you ascribe. In that regard, I know you always assume responsibility for leading students to accept the views you have, which is a terrific responsibility, as James said in Chapter 3:1 "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly."

Rex Ray said...

RRR,

Your referenced the words of James that indicate he was a teacher of religion: “…we who teach… (James 3:1)

It’s obvious he didn’t know his Brother had a dim view of religious teachers:

“Jesus also taught: “Beware of these teachers of religious law!” (Mark 12:38)

RRR said...

Rex Ray,

Was there ever a more powerful, insightful, knowledgeable of God's Kingdom and its work-"teacher", than Jesus Christ?

Plus, Jesus obvious had a very favorable view of "teachers" given that He commanded you and I, and Wade, to go, "teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you". I think James understood his assignment, don't you?

Jesus couldn't stomach those hypocrites who "teach" others what they are supposed to do while living like devils themselves.

Anonymous said...

Debbie,

I became a Christian 41 years ago. I would like to respond by saying that the plan of God from even before the creation of all things has been centered on the finished work of Christ on the Cross. Therefore, the doctrine of our eternity is by far the most important doctrine for us to understand.

I would like to share with you an article that I wrote approximately 3 years ago. Because of the magnitude of this doctrine, it is the longest article that I have ever written.

.......... What is the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ? ..........
(Re-examining the widely held belief of “eternal torment” in “Hellfire”)

If you or anyone else would like a copy of this article, I would be more than happy to e-mail a copy of this article.

(candy33alan@aol.com)