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Eternal Punishment by A.W. Pink


II. The Destiny Of The Wicked

There is deep need for us to approach this solemn subject impartially and dispassionately. Let writer and reader cry earnestly to God that all prejudices and preconceptions may be removed from our minds. It ill becomes us to sit at the feet of Infinite Wisdom determined to hold fast to our foregone conclusions. Nothing can be more insulting to God than to presume to examine His Word, professing a desire to learn His mind, when we have already settled to our own satisfaction what it will say. Some one has said that we ought to bring our minds to the Scriptures as blank paper is brought to the printing press, that it may receive only the impress of the type. May such grace be vouchsafed to us all that we may ever present our minds to the Holy Spirit’s teaching that only the impress may be left which God has designed. May our only desire be to hear "What saith the Lord?"

1. THE CERTAINTY OF THEIR JUDGMENT.

It is written "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27). This is one of the many verses which refute the errors of the Annihilationists, who make the judgment of the sinner to be, itself, death. But here death and judgment are clearly distinguished. The one follows the other.

The fact of a future judgment for sinners is established by numerous passages. In Ecclesiastes 11:9 we read, "Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." Again, in Ecclesiastes 12:14, we are told, For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil." The New Testament witnesses to the same truth: "He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained" (Acts 17:31). The judgment itself is described in Revelation 20:11-15.

Of the certainty of this coming judgment we are left in no doubt—"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Pet. 2:9). It will be impossible for the sinner to evade it. Escape there will be none—"How can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matt. 23.33). Resistance, individually or collectively, will be futile—"Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished" (Prov. 11:2 1). No confederacy of His foes shall hinder God from taking vengeance upon them.

2. DEATH SEALS THE SINNER’S FATE.

Scripture teaches plainly that man’s opportunity for salvation is limited to the period of his earthly life. If he dies unsaved his fate is sealed inexorably. There are two passages in the New Testament most generally relied upon by those who affirm that there is for the lost a hope beyond death. These are both found in the 1st Epistle of Peter. A brief notice then shall be taken of them.

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing" (3:18-20). But these verses make no reference whatever to any preaching heard by those who had already passed out of this life. They simply tell us that the Spirit of God preached through Noah, while the ark was being built, to those who were disobedient; and because they refused to respond to that preaching they are now "spirits in prison." It was not Christ Himself who "preached," but the Holy Spirit, as is plain from the opening words of v. 19—"By which also:" the "by which" points back to "the Spirit" at the end of v. 18. That the Holy Spirit did address Himself to the antediluvians we know from Genesis 6:3—"My Spirit shall not always strive with man." The Spirit strove through Noah’s preaching. That Noah was a "preacher" we learn from 2 Peter 2:5.

The second passage is found in 1 Peter 4:6, "For this cause was the Gospel preached also to them that are dead." But this need not detain us. The Gospel was preached, not is now being preached, or, will again be preached to them! That such passages as these are appealed to only serves to show how untenable and impossible is the contention they are supposed to support.

That death seals the doom of the lost, we may prove negatively by the fact—and this is conclusive of itself—that we have not a single instance described in either the Old Testament or the New of a sinner being saved after death. Nor is there a single passage which holds out any promise of this in the future. But there are passages which contain positive teaching to the contrary. Several of these are now submitted.

We turn first to Proverbs 29:1: "He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." This is so explicit and unequivocal it needs no words of ours either to expound or enforce it. Once the rebellious sinner is "cut off" he is "without remedy." Nothing could be clearer: at death his doom is sealed.

Again, in Matthew 9:6 we read, "But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house." Why did not the Lord simply say, "The Son of Man hath power to forgive sins," and then stop? That would have been sufficient reply to His critics. The only reason that we can suggest why the Saviour should have added the qualifying words—"The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins—was because He would give us to understand that after a sinner leaves the "earth" the Son of Man (Christ in His mediatonal character) has not the "power" (or "authority" as exousia really means) to forgive sins!

A similar instance to the above is found in John 12:25: "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." Notice that the antithesis would be complete without the restricting words "in this world"

—"He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life shall keep it unto life eternal." Again, we say, that the only reason we can see why Christ added the qualifying clause, "He that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal" was in order to show that destiny is fixed once we leave this world.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10, which speaks of believers, we have another example of this careful employment of qualifying language: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body." The saints are to be dealt with not merely according to what they have done, but that they may receive "the things done in the body." What they have done after they left the body and prior to the resurrection is not taken into account.

In John 8:21 it is recorded how that Christ said to His enemies, "I go My way, and ye shall seek Me, and shall die in your sins; whither I go, ye cannot come." Observe carefully the order of the last two clauses. Once they died in their sins, it was impossible for them to go to heaven. The solemn force of this verse comes out even more clearly if we contrast with it John 13:36: "Simon Peter said unto Him, Lord, whither goest Thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now; but thou shalt follow Me afterwards." Mark the absence of the qualifying "now" in John 8:21. To Peter it was said, as to a representative saint, "Thou shalt follow Me (to heaven) afterwards;" but to the wicked, Christ declared, "Whither I go, ye cannot come!"

3. WHAT AWAITS THE SINNER AT DEATH

We naturally turn for light on this to the teaching of the Lord, for more was said through Him than through any other concerning the future of the wicked. Nor shall we turn in vain to the record of His words. In Luke 16 we find Him drawing aside the veil which hides from us what lies beyond death. He tells us of a rich man who died "and was buried" (v. 22). But he had not ceased to exist. So far from it, the Lord went on to say, "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments." That Christ was here describing the actual experience of this rich man after death there is no good reason to doubt; to say otherwise, is to be guilty of blasphemously charging the Son of God with using language which He knew would mislead countless numbers of those who later would read the record of His words. No one who comes to this passage with an unprejudiced mind would ever suppose that it gave anything else than a plain and simple picture of what befalls the wicked after death. It is only those who have previously arrived at the foregone conclusion that there is no torment for the unbeliever after death, who approach this passage determined to explain away its obvious meaning, who rule out of it what is there and read into it what is not there.

"In Hades he lift up his eyes, being in torments." The Greek word here translated hell is "Hades," which is a generic term for the unseen world, into which the souls of all pass at death. No doubt it is due to the fact that the souls of saints as well as sinners are represented as entering Sheol at death that caused the translators to render it "grave" in many instances. But the fact that in both the Hebrew and the Greek there is an entirely different word used for "grave" ought to have prevented such a mistake. The Holy Spirit has carefully preserved the distinction between the two terms throughout. A careful examination of every passage in the Old and New Testaments where these words occur will show that many things are said of the grave" (Heb. "queber"; Gk. "mnemeion") which could never be said of "Sheol" or "Hades;" and many things are said of the latter which are never predicated of the former. For example: both the Hebrew and Greek words for "grave" occur in the plural again and again; Sheol and Hades never do so. The Hebrew and Greek words for "grave" are frequently referred to as the possession of individuals—"My grave" (Gen. 50:5); "grave of Abner" (2 Sam. 3:32); "His own (Joseph’s) new tomb" (Matt. 27:60); "The sepulchers of the righteous" (Matt. 23:29); etc. In Gen. 50:5 we read, "In my grave which I have digged for me;" of "mnemeion" we read, "And he laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock" (Matt. 27:60). Sheol and Hades are never so referred to. The body enters "queber" and mnemion," but it is never said to enter Sheol or Hades. Sufficient has been said to demonstrate that Sheol or Hades is not the grave. We may, therefore, confidently affirm that neither Sheol or Hades should ever be rendered "grave" or "the grave."

Hades refers to the same place as Sheol. Their identification is unequivocally established by a comparison of Psalm 16:10 with Acts 2:27; "Thou wilt not leave My soul in Sheol" (Ps. 16:10), is "Thou shalt not leave My soul in Hades" in Acts 2:27. But it is important to bear in mind that Sheol or Hades had two compartments, reserved respectively for the saved and the lost. And "between" these two, our Lord tells us there is "a great gulf fixed" (Luke 16:26). The compartment we are now considering is that which receives the souls of the wicked. In this, Christ declares, is a "flame" which torments. This is in perfect harmony with the teaching of the Old Testament concerning Sheol. In Deuteronomy 33:22 we read, "For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest Sheol." Again; in the parable of the tares our Lord said, "I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them" (Matt. 13:30). The explanation of this is found in vv. 40-42 of the same chapter: "As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this age. The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." As this takes place at the end of this age and before the judgment begins, the "furnace of fire" must refer to Hades rather than the Lake of Fire.

Returning then to the teaching of Luke 16 concerning the experience of the wicked immediately after death, we read, "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments." Here we have a sentient being, a conscious person, in a definite place; suffering there excruciatingly. He was in "torments." So great was his anguish he begged that one might "dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue" (v. 24). But such alleviation was denied him. He was bidden to "remember" how he had lived—a worshipper of Mammon. Such, we are assured, will be the doom of every one that dies in his sins.

4. THE UTTER HOPELESSNESS OF THE LOST.

Thus far we have seen, first, that the judgment of the wicked is certain; second, that death seals their doom; third, that at death the souls of unbelievers go to Hades, into that compartment of the unseen world reserved for the lost, there to be tormented in the flame. There they remain until the judgment, when they shall be resurrected and brought before the Great White Throne to receive their final sentence. We, therefore, devote a separate section to show that after the wicked are brought out of Hades there is even then, no hope whatever of their salvation.

The first scripture we appeal to in proof of this is John 5:29: "All that are in the graves shall hear His voice, 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." This is the solemn announcement of the Son of God. Let His words be well weighed. Here He tells us briefly, what awaits the sum total of the dead. They are divided into two classes: they that have done good, and they that have done evil. For the one there is the "resurrection of life;" for the other the resurrection of damnation." For evil-doers there is no resurrection of probation, and no resurrection of salvation; but simply and solely the resurrection of damnation. How this removes the very foundation on which any might desire to build a future hope for the wicked!

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 we read, "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." Here the apostle draws a contrast between the Christian grieving over the death of believing loved ones, and the heathen who mourned the loss of their dear ones. The Christian may sorrow over the departure of a saved relative or friend, but he can also comfort himself with the blessed hope presented to him in the Scriptures, the hope of being re-united at the coming of the Lord. This hope the heathen, and the unsaved in Christendom who mourn the loss of unsaved friends, have not. Yea, they have "no hope." This is not weakened at all by the fact that in Eph. 2:12, 13 we read of those once "without hope" who had nevertheless, been "made nigh by the blood of Christ." The Ephesian scripture speaks of those alive in the world, and while here there is always a hope they may be saved; though while they remain unsaved they are "without hope," that is, without any scripturally-warranted hope. But the Thessalonian passage speaks of those who have passed out of this world unsaved, and for them there is "no hope." Whatever vain hopes the wicked may now cherish in the day to come, the very "expectation of the wicked shall perish" (Prov. 10:28)!

Another scripture which proves the hopeless state of those who have rejected God’s truth is to be found in Hebrews 10:26-29: "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries, He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?" For our present purpose we need not stop to consider of whom this passage is specifically speaking. Sufficient to know that it treats of those who have wilfully resisted the light. For these we are told "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins." If there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, then they must themselves suffer the Divine penalty for them. What that penalty is this same passage tells us; it is "fiery indignation" which shall devour them. It is a judgment "without mercy." It is a "punishment" sorer than that which befell him that despised Moses’ law.

"For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment" (James 2:13). It is true that the apostle is here writing to saints, but in the verse we have just quoted there is a noticeable change in his language, and here he is obviously speaking of the unsaved, In the previous verse he had said "Ye," but now he changes to "he." He that hath showed no mercy (to his fellow-men) shall have "judgment without mercy" from God; and this, in spite of the fact that "mercy rejoiceth against judgment." The last clause is plainly for the purpose of adding solemnity to what precedes. Judgment "without mercy" is language which looks back to Isaiah 27:11, where we read, "It is a people of no understanding: therefore He that made them will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show them no favor." If, then, this judgment is "without mercy" how it closes the door against all possibility of a final reprieve, or even a modification of the dread sentence! And how it exposes the baselessness of that hope which is cherished by many, viz., that in the last great Day they think to cast themselves upon the mercy of that One whom they now despise and defy! Vain will it be to cry for mercy then. Of old God said to Israel, "Therefore will I also deal in fury: Mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in Mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them." So it will be at the last Judgment. One other scripture may be considered in this connection: "Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13). Unspeakably solemn is this. This verse is referring to the future portion of those who now turn "the grace of our God into lasciviousness" and deny "the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 4). Unto them is reserved "the blackness of darkness forever." The endless night of their doom shall never be relieved by a single star of hope. Thus have we sought to show that the Word of God by a variety of expressions, each of which is unambiguous and conclusive, reveals the utter hopelessness of those taking part in "the resurrection of damnation." We shall next consider:

5. THE LAST ABODE OF THE LOST.

This is given at least two different names in the New Testament: "Gehenna" and "Lake of Fire." Let us now examine the teaching of Scripture concerning them.

First, "Gehenna" is the Grecianized form of the Hebrew for "valley of Hinnom," which was a deep gorge on the east of Jerusalem. This valley of Hinnom was first used in connection with idolatrous rites (2 Chron. 28:3). Later it became a burial ground (Jer. 7:31), or more probably a crematorium. Still later it became the place where the garbage of Jerusalem was thrown and burned (Josephus). Its fires were kept constantly alight so as to consume the filth and rubbish deposited therein.

Second, this valley of Hinnom foreshadowed the great garbage-receptacle of the universe—Hell, just as other places and persons in the Old Testament Scriptures adumbrated other objects more vile—for example, the "king of Tyre" in Ezekiel 28. Just as what is there said of this king has in view one more sinister than he, so what is said of the valley of Hinnom symbolized that which was far more awful. We can no more limit Gehenna to the valley outside of Jerusalem than we can restrict "the king of Tyre" to a mere man of the past.

Third, the valley of Hinnom our Lord used as an emblem of Hell, and stamped with the hall-mark of His authority the wider and more solemn scope of the word. It should be carefully noted that when speaking of Gehenna He never referred to the mere literal valley outside of Jerusalem, but employed it to designate the place of eternal torments.

Fourth, Gehenna, in its New Testament usage, refers to a place. "And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish. and not that thy whole body should be cast into Gehenna" (Matt. 5:29. See also Matt. 18:9).

Fifth. the fire of Gehenna is eternal. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into Gehenna, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43, 44).

Sixth, Gehenna is the place in which both soul and body are destroyed. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (Matt. 19:28). This passage is most important, for more than any other it enables us to gather the real scope of this term. The fact that the "soul" as well as the body is destroyed there, is proof positive that our Lord was not referring to the valley of Hinnom. So, too, the fact that the "body" is destroyed there, makes it certain that "Gehenna"is not another name for "Hades." In pondering this solemn verse we should remember that "destroy" does not mean to annihilate. Some have raised a quibble over the fact that Christ did not here expressly say that God would "destroy both soul and body in hell," but merely said "Fear Him which is able to. " This admits of a simple and conclusive reply. Surely it is apparent on the surface that Christ is not here predicating of God a power which none can deny, but which, notwithstanding, He will never exert! He was not simply affirming the omnipotence of God, but uttering a solemn threat which will yet be executed. That such was His meaning is established beyond the shadow of doubt when we compare Matthew 10:28 with the parallel passage in Luke 12:5: "But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear him." This threat we know will be fulfilled.

Seventh, Gehenna is identical with the Lake of Fire. There are four things which indicate this, and taken together they constitute a cumulative but clear proof. First, the fact that in Gehenna God "destroys" both soul and body (Matt. 10:28). This shows the wicked who are there destroyed have already received their resurrection bodies. Second, the fact that the fire of Gehenna is eternal: it will "never be quenched" (Mark 9:43). This is nowhere said of the fires of sheol or hades. Third, in Isaiah 30:33 we learn that "Tophet" is ordained for "the king"—it is "the king" of Daniel 11:36, that is the Antichrist, "the Assyrian" of Isaiah 30:30. Now "Tophet" is another name for the valley of Hinnom, as may be seen by a reference to Jeremiah 7:31, 32. In Rev. 19:20 we are told that the Beast (the Antichrist) together with the False Prophet will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone." Thus by comparing Isaiah 30:33 with Revelation 19:20 we learn that Gehenna and the Lake of Fire are one and the same. Finally, notice the absence of "Gehenna" in Revelation 20:14, "And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire." The meaning of this is the people whom death and hades had seized

—"death" capturing the body; "hades" claiming the soul. That the casting of "death and hades" into the Lake of Fire refer to their captives is clear from the concluding words of the verse

—"This is the second death," i.e. for their victims. Note then that we are not told that "Gehenna" was cast into the Lake of Fire because Gehenna and the Lake of Fire and one and the same place.

We shall now offer a few remarks upon the Lake of fire and brimstone. The following analysis indicates the teaching of Scripture concerning it.

First, it is the place which finally receives the Beast and the False Prophet: Revelation 19:20.

Second, it is the place which finally receives the Devil: Revelation 20:10.

Third, it is the place which finally receives all whose names are not found written in the book of life: Revelation 20:15 and cf. 21:8.

Fourth, it is a place of "torment;" Revelation 20:10.

Fifth, it is a place whose torment is ceaseless and interminable, "day and night for ever and ever:" Revelation 20:10 and cf. 14:11.

Sixth, it is also termed "The Second Death:" Revelation 20:14; 21:8, etc.

Seventh, it has "no power" on the people of God: Revelation 20:6 and cf. 2:11.

In the sixth item above we have pointed out that the Lake of Fire is also denominated "The Second Death." At least three reasons may be suggested for this. First, this designation intimates that the endless torments of the Lake of Fire are the penalty and wages of sin. "The wages of sin is death." Second, the use of this appellation calls attention to the fact that all who are cast into the Lake of Fire will be eternally separated from God. As the first death is the separation of the soul from the body, so the second death will be the eternal separation of the soul from God—"Punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thess. 1:9). Third, such a title emphasizes the dreadfulness of the Lake of Fire. To the normal man death is the object he fears above all others. It is that from which he naturally shrinks, It is that which he most dreads. When, then, the Holy Spirit designates the Lake of Fire the "Second Death" He is emphasizing the fact that it is an object of horror from which the sinner should flee.

6. THE ETERNALITY OF THE SUFFERINGS OF THE LOST.

Upon this point the language of Scripture is most explicit. In Matthew 25:41 we read of "everlasting fire." In Matthew 25:46 of "everlasting punishment." In Mark 6:29 of "eternal damnation." And in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 of "everlasting destruction." We are aware that the enemies of God’s truth have sought to tamper with this word rendered everlasting and eternal. But their efforts have been entirely futile. The impossibility of rendering the Greek word by any other English equivalent appears from the following evidence:

The Greek word is "aionios" and its meaning and scope has been definitely defined for us by the Holy Spirit in at least two passages. "While we look not at the things which are seen: but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). Here a contrast is drawn between things "seen" and things "not seen," between things "temporal" and things "eternal." Now it is obvious that if the things "temporal" should last forever, there would be no antithesis between them and the things "eternal." It is equally obvious that if the things "eternal" are merely "age-long," then they cannot be properly contrasted with things that are temporal. The difference between things temporal and things eternal in this verse is as great as the difference between the things "seen" and the things "not seen."

The second example, which is of the same character as the one furnished in 2 Corinthians 4:18, is equally conclusive. In Philemon 15 we read, "For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him forever." Here the Greek for "forever" is aionios. The apostle is beseeching Philemon to receive Onesimus, who had left his master, and whom Paul had sent back to him. When the apostle says "receive him forever," his evident meaning is, never banish him, never sell him, never again send him away. "Aionios" is here contrasted with "for a season," showing that it means just the opposite of what that expression signifies.

Eternal or everlasting is the one and unvaried meaning of aionios in the New Testament. The same word translated "everlasting destruction," "everlasting punishment," "everlasting fire," is rendered "everlasting life" in John 3:16; "the everlasting God" in Romans 16:26; "eternal salvation" in Hebrews 5:9; "His eternal glory" in 1 Peter 5:10. No argument needs to be made to prove that in these passages it is impossible to fairly substitute any other alternative for everlasting and eternal, And it is thus with the other class of passages. The "everlasting fire" will synchronize with the existence of "the everlasting God." The "everlasting punishment" of the lost will continue as long as the "everlasting life" of believers. The "eternal damnation" of the wicked will no more have an end than will the "eternal salvation" of the redeemed. The "everlasting destruction" of unbelievers will prove as interminable as the "everlasting glory" of God. To deny the former is to deny the latter. To affirm the everlastingness of God is to prove the endlessness of the misery of His enemies.

7. THE FINALITY OF THEIR STATE.

The doom of those who shall be cast into the Lake of Fire is irrevocable and final. Many independent considerations prove this. Forgiveness of sins is limited to life on this earth. Once the sinner passes out of this world there remaineth "no more sacrifice for sins." The fact that at death the soul of the wicked goes at once into the "furnace of fire" (Matt. 12:42) witnesses to the fixity of his future state. The fact that, later, his resurrection is one "of damnation" (John 5:29) excludes all possibility of a last-hour reprieve. The fact that he is cast soul and body into a lake of fire argues that then he receives his final portion. The fact that the Lake of Fire is denominated the "Second Death" denotes the hopelessness of his situation. Just as the first death cuts him off forever from this world, so the second death cuts him off forever from God.

In Philemon 3 the apostle Paul speaks of the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and moved by the Holy Spirit he tells us that their "end is destruction" (v. 19). Stronger and more unequivocal language could not be used. There is nothing beyond the "end." And the end of the enemies of the Cross of Christ is "destruction" not salvation. The Greek word here translated "end" is "telos." It is found in the following passages: "Of His Kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33); "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. 10:4); "Having neither beginning of days nor end of life" (Heb. 7:3); "I am ... the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last" (Rev. 22:13).

As we have already seen, the twentieth chapter of Revelation describes the final judgment of the wicked before the Great White Throne, after which they are cast into the Lake of Fire. The chapters which follow—the last two in the Bible—may be read carefully and searched diligently, but they will not be found to contain so much as a single hint that those cast into the Lake of Fire shall ever be delivered from it. Instead, we find in the very last chapter of God’s Word the solemn statement, "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still" (Rev. 22:11). Thus the finality of their condition is expressly affirmed on the closing page of Holy Writ.

In the last two articles we have considered some of the principal sophistries which unbelief has brought against the truth of eternal punishment, and have also examined the teaching of Scripture concerning the Destiny of the wicked. We approach now the most solemn aspect of our subject, namely:

Contents | Introduction | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4


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