By: Mark Tabata (Evangelist)
The more I study the Bible, the more I am amazed at the depths of its’ teachings.
Let me give you an example.
Over the years, I have studied the doctrine of Hell.
Hell is a place of punishment for the wicked (Matthew 25:46). It is described with such terrifying symbols (mostly drawn from the Old Testament) as unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43, 45), a place where the “worm does not die” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48), and a place of outer darkness (Matthew 8:11-12). It is a place of wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:11-12), where the wicked will be “destroyed” with everlasting “punishment” from the presence of The Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
In many ways, Hell is a reflection of the perfectly just Nature of God. The Lord, Who cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), has prepared this place of “punishment” for those unprepared to meet Him.
Indeed, without the saving blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:8-10), Hell would be the “wages” that every sinner would inherit (Romans 6:23).
Yet what is so fascinating is that Jesus teaches that God has another purpose of Hell than what we often consider.
In Matthew, The Lord declared:
Matthew 25:46-And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Of special interest is the phrase that Jesus used here for “punishment.” It is the phrase “kolasis.”
Investigating the meaning of this word, one author has gathered together quite an impressive array of linguistic authorities:
“The word by which our Lord describes punishment is the word kolasin , which is thus defined: “Chastisement, punishment.” “The trimming of the luxuriant branches of a tree or vine to improve it and make it fruitful.” “The act of clipping or pruning— restriction, restraint, reproof, check, chastisement.” “The kind of punishment which tends to the improvement of the criminal is what the Greek philosopher called kolasis or chastisement.” “Pruning, checking, punishment, chastisement, correction.” “Do we want to know what was uppermost in the minds of those who formed the word for punishment? The Latin poena or punio , to punish, the root pu in Sanscrit, which means to cleanse, to purify, tells us that the Latin derivation was originally formed, not to express mere striking or torture, but cleansing. correcting, delivering from the stain of sin.” 4 That it had this meaning in Greek usage, see Plato: “For the natural or accidental evils of others no one gets angry, or admonishes, or teaches, or punishes ( kolazei ) them, but we pity those afflicted with such misfortune for if, O Socrates, if you will consider what is the design of punishing ( kolazein ) the wicked, this of itself will show you that men think virtue something that may be acquired; for no one punishes ( kolazei ) the wicked, looking to the past only simply for the wrong he has done— that is, no one does this thing who does not act like a wild beast; desiring only revenge, without thought. Hence, he who seeks to punish ( kolazein ) with reason does not punish for the sake of the past wrong deed, but for the sake of the future, that neither the man himself who is punished may do wrong again, nor any other who has seen him chastised. And he who entertains this thought must believe that virtue may be taught, and he punishes ( kolazei ) for the purpose of deterring from wickedness?” 5 (J.W. Hanson, Universalism: The Prevailing Doctrine Of The Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years (and showing the influence of Greek Mythology and pagan philosophy on Christian Doctrine), 612-622 (Kindle Edition); Boston and Chicago; Universalist Publishing House)
The purpose of God in creating Hell was in the hopes of bringing about repentance of the most wicked.
Why, then, are some still lost?
For the same reason that some criminals continue to go back to jail: they will not repent.
The reason why people will be in Hell is not because God will not forgive; it is because people will not repent.
Jesus makes this clear:
Matthew 8:11-12-And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Speaking of the phrase, “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” we learn:
“Throughout the Bible, gnashing of teeth expresses not pain but rage.4 When directed against God and his people, it is a futile rage, as Ps 112 makes clear. The Psalmist first describes the blessed reward awaiting the righteous (Ps 112:2–9). Then comes the psalm’s final verse: “The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing” (v. 10). As always, gnashing of teeth expresses rage. But even while this wicked man grinds his teeth, he wastes away and comes to nothing. If we consider the seven Gospel occurrences of “weeping and grinding of teeth,” we find that the expression: • modifies “throw into darkness outside” (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30); • accompanies “you yourself thrown out” (Luke 13:28); • follows “assign him a place with the hypocrites” (Matt 24:51); • modifies “weed out of his kingdom” and “throw away” (Matt 13:41–42); • accompanies “separate the wicked from the righteous” (Matt 13:49–50). In each instance those consigned to “weeping and grinding of teeth” are separated from others who are approved. Each time that expression is used, it accompanies a specific act of banishment, expulsion, or rejection. In two of the seven passages, those excluded are thrown into “the fiery furnace,” a fact unot necessary for “weeping and grinding of teeth,” as shown by the other five occurrences. In scriptural usage the expression “weeping and grinding of teeth” expresses more than one attitude. Weeping indicates sorrow, as the doomed begin to realize that God has thrown them out as worthless and as they begin to recognize the immanence of their own upcoming permanent demise. Throughout the Bible, gnashing of teeth always expresses rage, here toward God who sentenced them, and toward the redeemed who forever will be blessed. There is no biblical basis for the common assumption that gnashing of teeth indicates the agony of souls in torment…All three of these good men need to hear their fellow-traditionalist Larry Dixon, who points out that Rabbinic thought associated “weeping” with sorrow, and “‘gnashing of teeth’ almost always with anger, not, as generally supposed, with anguish.”8” (Edward Fudge, The Fire That Consumes: A Biblical And Historical Study Of The Doctrine Of Final Punishment, 157-159 (Kindle Edition); Eugene, Oregon; Cascade Books)
The more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced of this single fact: I do NOT want to go to Hell. Thanks to what Jesus has done for us, we can be saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-8).
Why not today as a believer repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins this very day (Acts 2:38-41)?
If you are an erring child of God, why not today repent and pray for forgiveness today (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.