Volume VI, Number 33
In this issue:
Pain and suffering exist in this world because of sin. They are the clearly stated consequences of sin’s presence in the world according to Genesis 3:16-19. Suffering is inevitable because sin is present in this world. We are all too familiar with the words of Job, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1).
The Bible reveals several different types of suffering: Here is a brief overview of some of them.
PUNITIVE suffering results when one violates established law. Whether it be natural laws (like gravity), moral laws (such as do not murder) or civil laws (paying taxes), one cannot violate the laws under which he lives without suffering some degree of pain or punishment. Thus, we have sufficient incentive to obey law to avoid punishment (Rom. 13:1-4).
DISCIPLINARY suffering occurs to warn us and to improve our lives. It is true that men often respond favorably in times of adversity to what they would reject in times of prosperity. “There are no atheists in a foxhole” speaks to this point. Suffering can be to our good - if we will learn its lessons (Psa. 119:71; Heb. 12:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7).
CONSEQUENTIAL suffering is the sort where innocent ones suffer due to the actions of others. The drunk driver kills an innocent victim, the unborn baby’s life is murdered by abortion. Millions suffer daily in this world through no fault of their own (Eccl. 9:11-12). But, as we have already noted, sin is the root cause of it all.
PERSECUTIONARY suffering is being troubled for what is right (Matt. 5:10-12). Those who live godly can expect this form of suffering (2 Tim. 3:12). Just as the world hated Jesus, His followers will also be hated (Jno. 15:19; 17:14). Although this kind of suffering is unjust, Jesus teaches us not to fear man and what he may do to us. We must fear God and always serve Him (Matt. 10:28).
SACRIFICIAL suffering occurs when one willingly suffers in the place of someone else. It is the essence of love (Rom. 5:6-8). Jesus suffered on our behalf, leaving us an example to follow (1 Pet. 2:21-24). Having been the recipients of Christ’s tremendous love and sacrifice, Christians are to be ready to suffer for others (1 Jno. 3:16).
Hell is the place of never-ending punishment for the wicked who, on Judgment Day, receive the sentence of “everlasting punishment” in “everlasting fire” (Matt. 25:46, 41). Sinners will be “cast into everlasting fire” - the “tribulation and anguish” which comes upon every one who “does evil” (Matt. 18:8-9; Rom. 2:6, 8).
However, many religious people do not believe in an eternal hell where the wicked dead will experience endless torment. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists are among this number. And, some Christians apparently agree. In the near future you are likely to hear or read some brethren say the wicked dead will not experience unending torment after the judgment – they will cease to exist. To them, “destroy…in hell” amounts to the sinner’s extinction (Matt. 10:28). This view concludes that the wicked ones will be consumed and eliminated for ever more in hell. Thus, they will cease to exist.
I have before me a pre-publication announcement of a “new book by the late Homer Hailey”, due to be published in February 2003, entitled God’s Judgment and Punishments, Nations and Individuals. The “main focus” of the book “is the final judgment and fate of the unrighteous, according to what the New Testament says and does not say. Hailey reaches the interesting conclusion that for the wicked the soul ceases to exist, as it is destroyed in hell.” Very interesting, indeed. And also very sad, because it is false doctrine.
The word “destroy” (apollumi), used in Matthew 10:28 (and 85 other times in the NT), means “to destroy…to perish” (Thayer, 64). Thayer says of the word, “metaph. to devote or give over to eternal misery: Mt. x.28; Jas. iv. 12”. The idea of the word “is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of well-being” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 164).
In the “everlasting fire” of hell the sinner will experience eternal ruin; unending loss. He will forever experience complete and utter ruin of body and soul (cf. 2 Ths. 1:9).
Some important questions need to be answered by those who teach otherwise: If the wicked cease to exist in hell, why is the fire of hell “everlasting” (Matt. 18:8)? Why is it that the fire of hell will “never be quenched” (Mk. 9:43, 45, 48)? How is it that the wicked are extinguished in hell but “their worm does not die” in the unquenchable fire (Mk. 9:48)? And, how is that the devil, the beast and the false prophet are “cast into the lake of fire…and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever”, yet the wicked dead, who are also “cast into the lake of fire”, escape never-ending torment (Rev. 20:10, 15)?
It will be interesting to see how or if the late brother Hailey answered these questions. And, it will be telling whether brethren will place this subject into Romans 14 or 2 John 9-11. This teaching is contrary to apostolic doctrine (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:6-9). The clarity of the subject cannot be called into question. Yet, some may say “it doesn’t really matter” what one believes about hell as long as he believes in hell.” (Is that how we should answer the Witnesses and Adventists? Certainly not.) We cannot relegate the elementary principle of “eternal judgment” to a matter of opinion over which we can “agree to disagree” (Heb. 6:1-2).
The torment of punishment for the wicked is just as eternal as the joy of reward for the righteous (Matt. 25:41, 46). The wicked will reap corruption, not annihilation (Gal. 6:8).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Preserved in Jesus Christ
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9
Christians are “preserved in Jesus Christ”, Jude 1.
I. HEAVEN IS PRESERVED FOR THE FAITHFUL.
Christian’s Inheritance is Reserved - 1 Pet. 1:4; Col. 1:5.
II. HELL IS PRESERVED FOR SINNERS.
Unjust are Reserved for Punishment – 2 Pet. 2:9 (4). Cf. 2 Pet. 2:17 (1); Mk.
III. THINGS WE ARE TO KEEP (reserve, attend to carefully, take care of, keep, preserve, hold fast, observe)
Observe (keep) The Teachings of Christ (NT) - Matt. 28:20; Jno. 8:51;
14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10; 1 Jno. 2:3-5; 3:24; 5:2-3.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
"When My Love to Christ Grows Weak"
Scripture Reading: Psalms 51:7-17
All Christians face times of trial, discouragement & doubt - Acts 14:22.
I. ADDRESS SINS OF APATHY & INDIFFERENCE – Rev. 2:4-5 (cf. Lk. 15:17).
Remember From Where You Have Fallen – Rev. 2:5.
II. THINGS YOU CAN DO TO OVERCOME APATHY – Eph. 5:14.
Godly Priorities in Your Life – Matt. 6:33 (Matt. 22:5; Gal. 2:20).
LDS Scholar Expects Excommunication
Thomas W. Murphy is chairman of the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, WA. He is also a Mormon. He faces excommunication from the LDS Church, not for some gross immorality, but for questioning the validity of the Book of Mormon.
Mr. Murphy published an article in May 2002 which, by the use of genetic data, discredits the Book of Mormon claim that American Indians are descendants of ancient Israel. This conclusion is also the thesis of his doctoral dissertation. For his research, analysis and conclusions, he will face a church disciplinary council December 8. The action taken against him will likely be excommunication.
Mr. Murphy is quoted as saying, “We’re told to tell the truth, but not if the truth contradicts church doctrine. I would prefer to tell the truth” (“LDS scholar expects excommunication,” by Patty Henetz, The Idaho Statesman, Nov. 30, 2002).
Mr. Murphy has discovered what Bible believers have always known: the Book of Mormon is not the word of God and certainly is not a record of ancient Israelites in the Americas. Mormons have sought in vain to link the Book of Mormon with factual archaeological and anthropological findings, but alas, they continue to fail. (The Bible, on the other hand, is the most historically verified document in the history of the world.) Thomas Murphy and some other intellectuals in the Mormon Church have the courage to tell the truth (and the lie), but the Mormon Church is not listening. Their hearts have long since been hardened against the evidence that the Book of Mormon is not inspired of God.
Joseph Smith, Jr. was not a prophet of God. You need not be afraid of him (Deut. 18:20-22). We commend Mr. Murphy for having the courage to seek the truth. When will the Mormon Church display such courage?
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 12/07/2002
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication
of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA