Friday, April 03, 2009

Is Hell Eternal?

As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. ~ Ecclesiastes 3:18-19
Strange how a question can take me to far away perplexity. This morning's Bible Study question on Romans 5:6-11 was "How often do you share with others what it cost for God to reconcile us to Himself? Why?"

My response: "Not often. Probably because I don't fully understand why Christ had to die. Why is death the wages of sin? Why did God create people with the ability to sin? Is hell eternal?"

Yeah, that last question catapulted me into a thought processing quandary. Off to Ecclesiastes I went (beware, Ecclesiastes can make inquiries go in circles). Eccl 3:9 says God has "set eternity in the hearts of men."

With the input of Solomon, I reasoned that being a Christ follower has little to do with the concept of heaven (reward) and hell (punishment). It's much more about experiencing life right now as the Creator intended.

So, what is life? What is hell?

Beth Crawford's next Bible Study question pushed me a little further: "How has God's reconciling work through Jesus changed your life?"

General response: I'm joyful instead of bitter. I have hope instead of doubt.

This is not a response of logic and understanding. So what is it? The only thing I can figure is that "life" comes from receiving the Holy Spirit.

The two or three pages I journaled on this thought come down to this:
  • Without the Holy Spirit we are no different than animals.

  • Sin is a self-directed life as opposed to a Holy Spirit directed life. We are self-directed, like an animal, by the needs and desires of the flesh.

  • The flesh was created. That which is created had a beginning and is subject to decay.

  • The Holy Spirit is eternal with no beginning and no end. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the flesh has an "end" of some sort.
I'm still not sure where that leaves hell. The question now is, Do we have an eternal spirit apart from the Holy Spirit? I'll be diving into scripture with the Holy Spirit as my guide to see what I can find.

Feel free to comment. Controversy can be a great teacher.


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