Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105

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Does Hell Exist? Pope Francis Says No
In New Interview That Could Change Catholic Church Forever

Catholic Pope Francis made a startling revelation Thursday by stating that hell did not exist, in an interview with a leading liberal Italian newspaper.

In an article entitled "It is an honor to be called a revolutionary," La Repubblica editor Eugenio Scalfari acknowledged the pontiff's previous remarks about how "good souls" who sought repentance from God would receive it and then asked: "What about the bad souls?". Seemingly going against centuries of core Christian belief, Pope Francis said the souls of sinners simply vanished after death, and were not subject to an eternity of punishment. (Tom O’Connor, Newsweek, March 29, 2018)

What Say the Scriptures regarding Hell?

All of the theories about hell, be it noticed, are based upon the assumption that death does not mean death -- that to die is to become more alive than before death. In Eden it was God who declared to our first parents, "Thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17). It was Satan who declared, "Ye shall not surely die (Gen 3:4). Notice that the heathen, as well as the Christians, have accepted Satan's lie and correspondingly rejected God's truth. Do they not all agree with the serpent's statement, "Ye shall not surely die"? Do they not all claim that the dead are alive -- much more alive than before they died? This, dear friends, has been our common point of mistake. We have followed the wrong teacher, the one of whom our Lord said, "He abode not in the Truth," and that he is the father of lies. -- John 8:44.

These false doctrines have prevailed amongst the heathen for many, many centuries, but they gained an ascendancy in the church of Christ during the "dark ages" and had much to do with producing the darkness thereof. If our forefathers had believed God's testimony, "Thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:17), there would have been no room for the introduction of prayers for the dead, masses for their sins, frightful thoughts respecting their torture. The scriptures agree from first to last that "the dead know not anything" (Ecc. 9:5) and that "His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them" (Job 14:21). It is the scriptures that tell us where the dead are and their condition; that they are experiencing neither joy nor sorrow, pleasure nor suffering; that they will have no knowledge of anything done under the sun until their awakening in the resurrection. Remember the wise man's words, "Do with thy might what thy hand findeth to do, for there is neither wisdom nor knowledge nor device in (sheol) the grave, whither thou goest." (Ecc. 9:10) Both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament it is written of both the good and the bad that they fell asleep in death. The apostle speaks of those who "sleep in Jesus," (1 Thes. 4:14) and of those who have "fallen asleep in Christ" (1 Cor. 15:18) who, he declares, are perished, if there be no resurrection of the dead. Could they perish in heaven or in purgatory or in a hell of torment? Assuredly no one so teaches. They are already in a perished condition in the tomb; and the perishing would be absolute, complete, unless a resurrection be provided for their deliverance from the power of death. Hence we read, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

In a word, then, the Bible teaching is that man was made superior to all the brute creation -- in the image and likeness of his Creator; that he possessed life in a perfect degree in Eden and might have retained it by full obedience. But in his trial, his testing, he failed and came under the death sentence. "In the day that thou eatest thereof, dying thou shalt die." (Gen. 2:17) There the dying began, which, after nine hundred and thirty years, brought father Adam to the tomb and involved all of his children in his weaknesses and death sentence. He died in the very day, which the Apostle Peter explains was not a twenty-four hour day but a thousand-year day, saying, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years." (2 Peter 3:8) During six of these great days the death sentence has brought man down in some respects to the level of the brute and left him without hope of future life, except as God might take compassion upon him and bring him some relief. This was hinted at in the statement that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. It was yet further elaborated to Abraham saying, "In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." -- Gen. 28:14.

Death, Not Torment, the Penalty

Note well the mistake made in assuming eternal torment the wages of original sin, when the scriptures explicitly declare that "The wages of sin is death" -- not eternal torment. (Rom. 6:23) We search the Genesis account of man's fall and the sentence imposed, but find no suggestion of a future punishment, but merely of a death penalty. Repeating it the second time the Lord said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." (Gen. 3:19) But he said not a word respecting devils, fire and torment. How, then, did the Adversary deceive our fathers during the "dark ages" with his errors, which the apostle styles "doctrines of devils" (1 Tim. 4:1)? Note the fact that none of the prophecies mention any other than a death penalty for sin. Note that the New Testament likewise declares the same. St. Paul, who wrote more than one-half of the New Testament, and who assures us that he did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), says not a word about torment. On the contrary, discussing this very matter of sin and its penalty, he says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Rom. 5:12) Note that it was not eternal torment that passed upon one man nor upon all men, but death. If some one suggests that death would not be a sufficient penalty for sin, all we would need to do would be to point him to the facts and thus prove his suggestion illogical. For the sin of disobedience Adam lost his paradisaic home -- lost eternal life and divine fellowship, and instead got sickness, pain, sorrow, death. Additionally the billions and billions of his posterity, disinherited so far as the blessings are concerned, have inherited weaknesses, mental, moral and physical, and are, as the apostle declares, "A groaning creation." -- Rom. 8:22.

God's Penalty a Just One

Let no one think the death penalty unjust and too severe. God could have blotted out Adam, the sinner, thus fulfilling the sentence. He could have blotted out the race instantly. But would we have preferred that? Assuredly not. Life is sweet, even amidst pain and suffering. Besides, it is the divine purpose that present trials and experiences shall prove useful as disciplines; to prepare us for a wiser course than father Adam took, when we shall be privileged to have a further individual trial. Our race would have been without hope of future existence, just as agnosticism claims, had it not been for divine compassion and the work of redemption.

Notice again why our Lord died for our redemption and see in that another evidence of the penalty. If the penalty against us had been eternal torment, our redemption from it would have cost our Lord that price. He would have been obliged to suffer eternal torment, the just for the unjust. But eternal torment was not the penalty; hence Jesus did not pay that penalty for us. Death was the penalty and hence "Christ died for our sins." "He by the grace of God" tasted "death for every man" (Heb. 2:9). Whoever could pay Adam's penalty could settle with divine justice for the sins of the whole world, because Adam alone had been tried -- Adam alone had been condemned. We, his children, were involved through him. Behold the wisdom and the economy of our Creator. The scriptures assure us that he condemned the whole world for one man's disobedience, in order that he might have mercy upon all through the obedience of another -- Christ. We were condemned to death without our consent or knowledge. We were redeemed from death without our consent or knowledge.

Some one may inquire, "Are we, therefore, without responsibility? Will there be no individual penalty upon us for individual wrong doings?" We answer, "A just recompense of reward" (Heb 2:2) will be meted out to all. But our eternal destiny can be settled only by ourselves, by our individual acceptance or rejection of the grace of God. The scriptures clearly inform us that every sin, in proportion to its willfulness, brings a measure of degradation which involves "stripes," chastisements, corrections to regain the lost standing. (Luke 12:47,48) Thus the more mean and more wicked a man or woman may be, the greater will be his or her disadvantages in the resurrection time, and the more he will then have to overcome to get back to all that was lost in Adam and redeemed by Christ.


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