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Reason, Logic, and Faith


(Do your beliefs make sense?)
By
Otinel C. Iancu

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(Phil. 2:20)

Do your doctrines (teachings) and beliefs make sense? If you were to be asked, “Who is your God?” what will be your
answer? If you will say that God is merciful and just (love), can you harmonize this belief with the doctrine of an eternal
torment in hell? This pamphlet will challenge the reader to harmonize his beliefs with the Word of God. Scriptures and
logic must be the building blocks with which every believer should consolidate his faith. In other words, one’s doctrines
must make sense.

Who is your God? To answer this question one needs to use both the Bible and common sense (logical reasoning), for God
says, “Come, let us reason together” (Is. 1:18). Convincing individuals of the truth is the Holy Spirit’s job, not man’s, for “He
will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). Men are just witnesses: “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares Jehovah…” (Is.
43:10-13); “… you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses …even to
the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Therefore, any definitive answer about God’s nature must come from the mouth of
God Himself, as found in the Bible. Then it must be illustrated and ultimately demonstrated. Furthermore, it could be argued
that this is life’s most important question. For only when one “knows who God is” can he evaluate whether or not other
doctrinal beliefs that he or others hold are correct. If you think this is an easy question, then articulate an answer before
reading further. Try it! See if you know whom you are really worshipping… Go ahead!...

If you answer the question with one of God’s names or one of His attributes such as: Jesus Christ (Anointed Savior), the Creator,
the Provider, etc. then you haven’t really answered the question fully. You need to tell us more comprehensively who God is, not
merely one aspect of what He does. If you say, “the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, etc.” you have not only limited yourself to
selected attributes, but you’ve chosen ones that to most people would not be comforting. After all, would you really desire a
God who merely knew everything about you—or wanted to dominate you with His overwhelming power?! The Bible presents a
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picture of God that offers comfort and security. Consequently, any biblically sound answer to our question will be
comprehensive enough to give that end result.

Have you answered, “I am who I am”? Yes, this is a biblically defensible answer, but it makes no sense in today’s context. Just
try introducing yourself to someone as “I am who I am.” Then ask him if he knows anything more about you, based on your
introduction, than he knew before you gave him that answer! Indeed, this expression, taken out of context, makes no sense at
all. Moses said to God, “Suppose… they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I
AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you… Jehovah, the God of your fathers
—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob…’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call
me from generation to generation.” (Exod. 3:13-15). This answer made sense only because there was a prior knowledge and
relationship. The Hebrew nation knew their forefathers and their forefathers’ relationship with “I am who I am.”

God told Moses (and by extension the millions of Israelites at Mt. Sinai) who He is: “Then Jehovah came down in the cloud
and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, Jehovah. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “Jehovah,
Jehovah, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to
thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Exod. 34:4-7). In
short, He defines Himself as a JUST and MERCIFUL God. These two attributes, IN PERFECT BALANCE, not
separately, define what the Bible calls LOVE and comprise God’s holiness—the One who is absolutely different from
anything that is common. The same attributes are found in the Holy of Holies, the most sacred part of the wilderness sanctuary
and later the temple. It was there where the presence of God dwelt. These two character attributes were vividly represented:
God’s justice by the Tables of the Law (the Ten Commandments) and His mercy by the Mercy Seat. A favorite writer of mine,
Ellen G. White, writes that at the cross, in the person of Jesus, mercy and justice kissed. Man himself is required to have the
same character: “He has shown you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you: to do justice, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

Now that we know who God is, everything attributed to Him must fit that character. If not, it cannot be true. Therefore,
focusing on God’s character is a safeguard against all doctrinal error. As we continue with this material, we will be
challenged to take a closer look at some of the beliefs that many consider irrefutable Bible truths but which actually conflict
with the character of God we just established. We will therefore realize a tragic irony: many who take the name of Christ, in all
good conscience, embrace beliefs that situate them in the camp of the enemy—a very dangerous situation.

Puzzling Questions… Have you ever wondered why God allowed sin? Why wasn’t Lucifer destroyed immediately, thus sparing
humans from suffering and death? What did Lucifer rebel against anyway? Did Lucifer think he could defeat God? Why did
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Satan want man to fall? What was (is) the main mission of Christ? Where is man going after he ends his journey on this earth?
Does it really matter if Christ is God or another of God’s creatures?

What did Lucifer rebel against? Any rebellion or revolution is invariably against something for which the authority rebelled
against stands. In this case it had to be the character of God. To contest the power of God would be futile, for no one else has
anything close to His power. All God had to do was to take Lucifer’s breath away and all discussion would be concluded. So,
Lucifer questioned God’s character—whether God really is who He said He is. Lucifer apparently questioned God’s mercy and
justice, citing for evidence God’s apparently “restrictive” laws.

Why did God allow sin and not destroy Lucifer immediately? It wasn’t in order to give man freedom of choice, for that
doesn’t require the presence of a tempter. Lucifer didn’t have anyone to tempt him, yet he chose evil. Destroying Lucifer
immediately, without giving intelligent beings in the universe time to see the true nature of his rebellion, would have
strengthened Lucifer’s claims and proved him right. God’s claim to fairness (justice) and mercy would have been disproved.
Also, all in the universe would have obeyed God out of fear, something totally contrary to His nature. This alone would
have put Lucifer in a winning position. So, for the security of the universe, Lucifer had to be given time to expose his own
evil nature.

Did Lucifer stand a chance? Even for a moment, did Lucifer think he could defeat God? If he did, what strategy did he have to
achieve that goal? Why did Satan want man to fall, besides the fact his nature enjoys others’ suffering?

Can a homeless man stand a chance if he picks a fight with a powerful millionaire with 100 armed bodyguards? No! Is there any
scenario where he could stand a chance? Perhaps. Let’s imagine he kidnaps one of the rich man’s children. That powerful
individual may well capitulate to certain demands. Satan’s plan was to “kidnap” man so that God, in the person of His Son,
would have to take human nature and come to redeem him. That was the only course of action demanded by the justice and
mercy of God. Had God destroyed Adam and Eve, action that they deserved, He would have been unmerciful, unloving, for no
parent would do that to his children. That would have made Satan’s accusations true. On the other hand, had God accepted them
back into His favor, without paying the penalty of sin (death), He would have been unjust, and this too would have made Satan a
winner. By making man fall, Satan was going to create a situation that God Himself has never been in before – become a man.
This would be an uncharted territory even for God. In this scenario, he thought, Jesus would become an easy prey. He will fall,
and Satan will win. If Christ was to sin, that would mean that He will go against His own nature, thus proving Lucifer’s
accusations right. For that reason Satan continuously tempted Jesus, till the very last moment on the cross, for Jesus could have
fallen. If there were no possibility for him to fall, as some believe, then the words that “he was tempted in all thing as we are,” or
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that He is our perfect example, would be a lie. As a matter of fact, all His incarnation and His ministry on Earth would be a fake
Hollywood-type show.

What was Christ’s main mission? If you answered, “man’s salvation,” then ask yourself what if Adam and Eve had not fallen?
Sin was already in the universe, for Lucifer rebelled in heaven. The main mission of Christ wasn’t man’s salvation, although that
was part of it, but rather the vindication of God’s character, to glorify God—that is, to prove Him right and to honor Him.
Christ had to defeat Satan and his accusations. He says that He came to defeat the devil. Man has the same mission. Men are not
called to save, for that is not their job, but to be God’s witnesses and thus make disciples—people who by their holy lives, in the
power of the Holy Spirit, vindicate God’s character.

What was God’s greatest proof of His love? - Was it Christ’s death on the cross? Well, to many that doesn’t seem too
impressive. After all, He came out of the grave three days later. Was it His suffering? Hardly. There were others who suffered
far more and even gave their lives for their faith without coming out of the grave almost immediately. Wouldn’t anyone sacrifice
a son or daughter if it meant saving the lives of millions of people—especially if in three days their child would be resurrected?

God’s greatest proof of His love was the RISK He took when He sent Jesus to take human nature. You see, if Jesus failed the
test of temptation, and thus sinned, Satan would have won the battle. The essence of sin is that which is contrary to God’s
character. It is being unlike God, transgressing or violating His law. If Jesus had done such then He as God would have not
been who He said He is. In essence He would thus have been a liar like Satan—saying He is one thing when, in actuality, He
was something else. God loved you and I so much that He risked his own existence. Wow!...

One’s beliefs place him either on God’s side or the enemy’s.


According to popular Christianity God is the greatest tyrant of all times. Shocked? We should be. But the truth is this: at least a
few beliefs considered irrefutable truths may position us, without even knowing it, in the camp of the enemy, accusing and
attacking God’s character, just as Lucifer did. Let’s look at some of them.

The Millennium – There are two major views.


1. First view: Events before and during Christ’s second coming depopulate the earth of its inhabitants. (The saints go to
heaven and the wicked are destroyed, leaving Satan and his demons in a prison of inactivity.)
2. Second view: The saints go to heaven, and after seven years they come back with Christ. Satan is bound somewhere, and
others (whoever they might be) continue to live on earth for 1000 years.

Those who believe the second view should ask themselves: What does this belief say about God’s character? The Bible provides
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no indication that at the end of the Millennium, when the New Jerusalem descends with God’s people, another group from the
Millennium era will join them. Also, if God brings people into the world during a 1000-year period where salvation is no longer
possible, He could easily be accused of injustice and lack of compassion. Or, if there is salvation during the Millennium, when
there is no devil to tempt them, then those who lived from Adam till the Second Coming, who were tempted by Satan, and lost
their salvation, could accuse God of unfairness.

Another problem with that view is that there is no place in the Bible where it says that after Christ comes and takes His faithful
to heaven, at the Second Coming, they come back after seven years, as wrongly is believed. Also, there is no place where it says
that at some point in time in the future, after coming to the Earth after seven years, they go back to heaven once more. For if at
the end of the Millennium the New Jerusalem, with its people, comes down from heaven, as Revelation clearly states, then they
should be in heaven prior to that moment. So, the question one should ask is: “Does my belief on this subject stand the test of
reason and Scripture?

2. Predestination – the belief that God decides who is saved and who is lost long before a person comes into the world and
independent of his will. This is a blunt attack on God’s character and strongly supports the enemy’s cause. If such were the
case, God would be neither just nor compassionate. Also, why would repentance, obedience, sin, etc., matter if one’s case is
already decided? What is the point of evangelism? Does it make any sense to believe in predestination?

Yes, the Bible states that God has called certain people to Him without asking them. But that choice was for a mission, for a
specific work, not for salvation. The Bible clearly says that “whomsoever believe may have everlasting life.” That puts the
responsibility on man. The method of salvation is predestined, for there is no other name under heaven in which one must be
saved. The Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world.

3. Once saved always saved - Paul seems to have thought differently: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection
of the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that
for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one
thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which
God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:7-15). King Saul was chosen, yet in the end perished. Ezekiel
clearly speaks against such a belief, and so do many other Bible writers that urge believers to hold fast, to watch, to be on
guard. “When a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil… they will die. Since you did not warn
them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you
accountable for their blood. (Ezek. 3:18-21). Peter too writes: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls
around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Paul himself says that “I buffet my body, and bring it into
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bondage, lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:27). The Scripture
and the test of logic forces us to reject such a view.

4. Is Christ God, or a creature? Some believe that although Jesus existed before His incarnation, there was a time when He did
not exist. Well, if He is not God (the eternal Creator of all), then why is He worshipped? Also, what would this say about God’s
character if He created someone else in order to save His creatures, a responsibility that actually belongs to Him as father?

Yes, the Bible says that he is the first born of all creation, but the message of this verse has to be taken from the general purpose
of the “firstborn” concept. It is the unquestionable and unchallenged rights of the firstborn that is stressed by this verse, and not
the beginning of Christ. The Bible has plenty examples where the first born of a man did not always have that right, but the one
who had a special relationship with the father. For example, Ishmael was the firstborn of Abraham, but it was Isaac who held the
firstborn rights. Esau lost his firstborn right to his brother Jacob. It was Manasseh who was Joseph’s first son, but it was decided
by Jacob that his brother Ephraim will have that right.

It also says: “You are my son, today I have begotten you.” When the NT uses this expression it is a direct quote from Psalms 2:7.
In Psalms it refers to the time of David’s coronation, and not his birth.

This belief that Christ was created conflicts with many Bible statements, attacks God’s character, and does not stand the test of
reason. Therefore it must be concluded that this not biblical and must be rejected.

5. State of the dead – Again, here are the two main views of how God deals with man as a fallen being at the time of his death
and thereafter:
First view: Man, upon the close of his individual probation time, at his death, sleeps in the grave, knowing nothing. If he had a
saving relationship with God he will be resurrected at the Second Coming, will go to heaven with Christ for 1000 years, and will
then return when the earth is recreated to live forever in a world free of sin, pain, and death. The wicked also sleep in death,
knowing nothing, but will be resurrected after the Millennium to receive their punishment by fire, which is eternal destruction,
ceasing to exist. As we look at the following passages, let’s pay attention to the words that are employed to show annihilation
rather than an eternity of suffering. “For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations. As you have done, it will be
done to you… They will… become as if they had never been (existed). (Obed. 1:15,16). "For yet a little while and the
wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look diligently for his place, but it shall be no more." (Ps. 37:10,11). "For
behold the day is coming burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes all who do wickedly shall be as stubble. And the
day that is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, that shall leave them neither root nor branch.… they shall
be ashes..." (Mal. 4:1,3), etc.
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Even Satan will cease to exist. “You were the seal of perfection… You were in Eden, the garden of God... You were the
anointed cherub who covers… You were on the holy mountain of God… You were perfect in your ways from the day you
were created, till iniquity was found in you… and you sinned. Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain
of God, and I destroyed you, O covering cherub... I cast you to the ground… I brought fire from your midst. It devoured
you and I turned you to ashes… and shall be no more forever.” (Ezek. 28:12-19.)

Martha and Jesus both knew her brother was asleep, knowing nothing. “‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go so
that I may awaken him out of sleep’… Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of
literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead …’ So when Jesus came He found that he had already
been in the tomb four days…When Martha heard that Jesus was coming went to meet Him… ‘Lord, if You had been
here, my brother would not have died…’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to Him, ‘I know
that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day’ (John 11:1-24). Notice Martha says, “on the last day.” Jesus
Himself says: “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise them up on
the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal
life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:39-40.)

The Bible makes it clear there is no consciousness in death (Sheol): “Anyone who is among the living has hope… For the
living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing… Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since
vanished, never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun... Whatever your hand finds to do, do
it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor
knowledge nor wisdom.” (Eccl. 9:4-6,10) “For there is no mention of You in death. In Sheol who will give You thanks?”
“For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You. Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your faithfulness.”
(Ps. 6:5; Is. 38:18; Ps. 19:17; 16:10; 18:5; 30:9; 31:17; 49:14.15; 55:15; 86:13; 88:3; 89:49; 116:3; 139:8; 141:7; Prov. 1:12; 5:5;
7:27; 9:18; 15:11,24; 23:14; 27:20; 30:16; Eccl. 9:10; Song. 8:6; Is. 5:14; 7:11; 14:9,14,15; 28:15,18; 38:10,18; 57:9; Ezek.
31:15-17; 32:21, 27; Hos. 13:14; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Hab. 2:5)

This view safeguards God’s character (mercy + justice) for it gives man what he wants—to be with God if he desires it, or to be
separated from Him if that’s his choice. “Hell,” cannot mean separation from God in eternal conscious suffering, for the Bible
says, “If I ascend up into heaven, you are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there” (Ps. 139:8). In fact, the only
“place” where God cannot dwell is in a state of nonexistence. In other words, one would have to cease to exist in order to be
away from the presence of God.
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Second view: Man upon his death has his soul or spirit (which is which?!...) go to heaven (or Paradise) to enjoy the presence of
God, while the wicked go straight to hell (Hades) to be tormented. At the Second Coming the faithful receive new bodies and
live forever, and the others will, at the end of the millennium, be cast in the lake of fire and tormented throughout eternity. This
view is blatantly contrary to everything for which God stands. It clearly denies both justice and mercy. Furthermore, it
invalidates the resurrection of the dead and the Second Coming, for why does one need either if he is already in heaven? What
difference would it make to punish someone with a fire from heaven at the end of the Millennium if one has been in fire ever
since he died? Has anyone read anywhere in the Bible that the fire from heaven which destroys the wicked does anything more
than that, or moves somewhere else in order to make a place for the new earth?

This is the way the Bible describes creation: “Jehovah God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (soul).” (Gen. 2:7). Death is described as the reverse process of
creation: “The dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:6,7). “The soul
(person) who sins will die” (Ezek. 18:20). The soul is not a third entity living in consciousness on its own, but it is simply
the living person. Peter writes that “in the days of Noah, … eight souls (persons), were brought safely through the water. (1
Pet. 3:19-20)

But why do so many hold to a teaching totally contrary to God’s character as well as the best interests of humans who refuse
God’s gift of salvation? It is simply because many believe the Bible teaches both an immediate trip to heaven for the righteous
and descent into an eternal burning hell for the wicked. Here are the main passages used to make these points:

a. The thief on the cross: Contrary to what many believe, the thief believed just like Martha and the others did: “Jesus,
remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you today you shall be with Me in
Paradise.” (Luke 23:42,43). The thief expected to be remembered when Christ was to come into His kingdom, at the
Second Coming, not right away, and not right there. The context does not allow translators to put a comma before “today,”
and thus force the verse to say that he was to be with the Lord that very day, but that is exactly what many translators have done!
However, the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus did not ascend to heaven on the day of His crucifixion. Instead, Christ was in the
grave for the next three days. So the thief’s belief and Jesus’ answer are in harmony - he will be with Christ at the Second
Coming, he did not go to heaven immediately. If Jesus was to say that in that day the thief will be with him in Paradise that
would create the biggest problem we as humans could have. We would be without a Savior, since Jesus lied, because he was in
the grave for the next three days. Even after the resurrection, when someone wanted to touch Him Jesus stopped him for “I have
not yet ascended to my Father.” (For “Paradise" see also 2 Cor.12:4 and Rev.2:7). Once more, the way most of the people
understand this passage does not harmonize with its context, with other Bible verses addressing the subject, and with the test of
reason.
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b. Lazarus and the rich man: “Now there was a rich man… and a poor man named Lazarus... Now the poor man died
and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted
up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father
Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue,
for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child… between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that
those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’” (Luke
16:22-31)

If one takes this story literally, it seems to provide more questions than answers. While the rich man claims to be in agony
in flames, all it takes to solve the problem is a dip of the tip of his finger in water and cool off the tongue. Is that realistic? Also,
is Hades in the heart of the earth? Or is Paradise (Abraham’s bosom) somewhere in heaven? Wherever they might be, if the
story is taken literally then they are in close proximity, for individuals in the two regions are able to communicate. It is difficult
to believe this is a description of reality, for how could one enjoy himself in “Abraham’s bosom” while watching his loved ones
tormented in Hades! How could one live joyfully even in this life, knowing a deceased loved one is being tormented somewhere
in the universe (Hades) by a God he believes to be so good and loving?! Does this make any sense?

Let’s look at the following examples: “Because you will not abandon my soul to Hades nor allow your Holy One to undergo
decay... he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades nor did his
flesh suffer decay.” (Acts 2:27,31) “I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death, and
Hades was following with him.” (Rev. 6:8) “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the
dead which were in them… Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of
fire.” (Rev. 20:13,14) Does the sea have its own dead and Death and Hades their own? What’s the difference between Death
and Hades both of which apparently “have” dead people? One should explain how Hades and Death are thrown into the lake
of fire too, which itself is the second death!?... Any explanations? Does it make sense?

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and the name of the one that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And
power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and with the beasts
of the earth.” (Rev. 6:8). How do Death and Hell kill with death? How does that work?!...

In many places, the Old Testament uses a literary device called parallelism where the second part of a verse helps to
explain the first part. Consider these verses where parallelism gives us a better idea of the relationship between death
and hell. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her
increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. (Deut. 32:22). “But he knows not that the dead are there, and that
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her guests are in the depths of hell.” (Prov. 9:18). “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented
me.” (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps.18:5; Job 11:8). “Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.” (Job 26:6). “For thou wilt
not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer your Holy One to see corruption.” (Ps.16:10). “Let death seize upon them,
and let them go down quick into hell.” (Ps. 55:15). “Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” (Prov.
7:27). "Jehovah kills and makes alive, He brings down to Sheol and raises up. (1 Sam. 2:6). Notice how death (being killed)
is the opposite of life (being made alive), and “Sheol” is opposite of “raised up.” The same relationship is seen here: “The cords
of Sheol surrounded me, the snares of death confronted me.” (2 Sam. 22:6). See also: (Ps. 116:3). “Yet you shall be brought
down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” (Is. 14:15; 28:15,18; 57:9) (See also: Ps. 9:17; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 15:24; 23:14; 27:20; Is.
5:14; Amos 9:2; Is. 14:9; Ezek. 32:21,27; Ezek. 31:16,17).

“And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto Jehovah, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell I cried, and you heard my
voice.” (Jonah 2:2). Here “hell” clearly meant the belly of the fish. (Matt. 5:29; 22.30; 10:28; 11:23; 16:18; 18:19: 16:18;
18:19; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45,47; Lk. 10:15; 12:5; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; James 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 1:18; 6:8)

"Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." But Jacob said, ‘My son shall not go down with you; for his
brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him … you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.’"
(Gen. 37:35; 44:29,31; 42:38) If Patriarch Jacob believed what most Christians teach today, as one of God’s faithful he
should have expected to be in heaven when he died. Then is Sheol heaven? Certainly he wasn’t happy to go there, and he
did not expect to see Joseph, another true believer, there. Jacob knew that death did not bring an immediate reunion
with his son, and therefore he was sorrowful.

Consider another Bible example: "But if Jehovah brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and
swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned
Jehovah.… So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol...” (Num. 16:30,33; see also Deut. 32:22). Here we
are told that these evil people went to Sheol too. Is then Sheol the hell, the place of torment? One needs to harmonize these
verses with those we just read regarding Jacob. Surely, the faithful and the unfaithful do not go to the same place. Careful Bible
study allows only this solution: Sheol simply means “death,” and “grave” where both the righteous and the wicked sleep
unconsciously until they are ultimately resurrected, each at his own time – the righteous before the millennium, and the wicked
after.

After David handed kingship over to his son Solomon, he instructed the young ruler to exact judgment against two enemies of
God and the throne. He used the same words describing the punishment that should come to each of these men, "So act
according to your wisdom, and do not let his gray hair go down to Sheol in peace.” (1 Kings2:6,9). If Sheol is a place where
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someone suffers conscious torment, why would David see a need to punish someone before he reached Sheol? While pondering
that, add these words of Job to the equation: "Oh that You would hide me in Sheol, That You would conceal me until Your wrath
returns to You, that You would set a limit for me and remember me! (Job 14:13; 7:9; 11:8; 21:13; 24:19; 26:6; 33:18). If Sheol
was a place where the wicked are punished, why would Job pray to be hidden from God’s wrath in Sheol? The most
straightforward explanation is this: Hell, Death, Sheol, Hades, and the Lake of fire are all essentially synonyms referring to a
place where individuals experience the opposite of life, i.e., unconsciousness or nonexistence. (Matt. 16:18; 11:23; Lk. 10:15;
Acts 2:27.31; Rev. 1:18)

“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had
been beheaded… They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life
until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first
resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with
him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to
deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle... They marched
across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from
heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the
beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Rev. 20:4-10).
Does this fire then move somewhere else?!

While the devil is a different type of being, it could be argued that the beast and the false prophet, just like Gog and
Magog, are personified as human beings. Therefore an apparent contradiction emerges: “devour” implies a final
irrevocable outcome, while “for ever and ever” implies a non-ending, ongoing action.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it… And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before
the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according
to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up
the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were
thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of
life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:11-15). This seems to add to the confusion. The lake of fire is defined as the
second death, not an ongoing suffering and punishment. In this context one should also explain what it means that “death” is
thrown into “death.” Is the first “death” a being?

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away… I saw the Holy
City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God… And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
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‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God
himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or
mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Rev. 21:1-4). These words could not be more
clear. A time is coming when there will be no more death, crying or pain. If one believes in a place of everlasting torment
how can these Bible truths be explained?!

c. Forever, everlasting - “These shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matt. 25:46).
“It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched
(everlasting).” (Matt. 18:8; Mark 9:43). “And the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever.” (Rev. 14:11). “Then
shall he say also unto them on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his
angels.’” (Matt.25:41)

Everlasting, unquenched, forever and ever, do they mean without an end? And if yes, what is it that has no end? Isaiah was
wondering “who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” (Is.
33:14) “If you buy a Hebrew slave… on the seventh [year] he shall go out as a free man without payment… But if the slave
plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ then his master shall bring him to
God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall be his
servant forever (permanently). (Exod. 21:2-6; Deut.15:17). Well, is this slave, and his master, immortal? They would have to be
for this relationship to truly endure forever. However, we all know they are not, therefore “forever” in this case means until
death. So, in this case, the Bible’s “forever” can have an end.

Jude 7 makes this subject very plain. “As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them in a similar manner, having given
themselves over to sexually immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of
eternal fire.” Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning today, yet the Bible says they suffered “the vengeance of eternal fire.” How
can this be explained? It simply means these cities were completely burned, until there was nothing left. They were completely
consumed, never again to be rebuilt. The results of the fire were eternal. Therefore, here again “forever” has an end.

Here are a few more examples where the words “forever” or “forever and ever” are used. “It will not be quenched night or
day. Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation it [the land of Edom (see v. 6)] will be desolate. None
will pass through it forever and ever.” (Is. 34:10). Is Edom still burning today? Check these other verses and see if any
could possibly mean without an end. - Ps. 21:4; 23:6; 75:9; 83:17; 119:44; Is. 34:10; Is. 47:7; Jer. 17:4; Ezek. 27:36; 28:19;
37:25; Dan. 2:4; 6:6.21; 7:26; Jonah 2:6; John 8:35; Rom. 11:10; Josh. 4:7; 1 Sam. 27:12; 1 Chr. 28:4; 2 Chr. 10:7; 7:16;
Ps. 21:4; 23:6; 75:9.
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In the original New Testament Greek, when the adjective aionios, meaning everlasting, is used with nouns of action it refers to
the results of an act, not the process. The phrase “everlasting punishment” is comparable to everlasting redemption and
everlasting salvation, both Scriptural phrases. We were redeemed and saved once for all by Christ with eternal results. In the
same way the lost will not be passing through the process of punishment forever but will be punished once and for all with
eternal results. On the other hand the noun “life” is not a noun of action but a noun expressing a state. Thus life itself, just as
death, is eternal.

“He asked life of You, You gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.” (Ps. 21:4). Is that possible? “For such is God,
Our God forever and ever. He will guide us until death” (Ps. 48:14). In this verse as well, “forever” apparently means until
death.

d. Souls under the altar. “I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and
because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and
true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Rev. 6:9-11). Heaven is a no-
worry, carefree place. If “souls” refer to conscious living entities (which we have already seen is not the case) then some of
those “souls” would have gone to heaven at the time of their death—decades or centuries ago. This description would then be
highly problematic, for these “souls” seem neither happy nor at peace. Worse yet, all they have in mind is vengeance. Such a
situation would likely scare most any heaven-bound saint. The only biblically defensible interpretation of this passage is that it is
a metaphor, indicating that the mute testimony of Christian martyrs is, in a sense, calling out for justice. The same idea can be
seen in Hebrews 12:24 where reference is made to the blood of Abel “speaking.” Abel’s blood is no more audibly
communicating than the slain martyrs; both are metaphors for the witness of the righteous dead who now sleep in their graves.

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep… For if we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” If Paul
believed that the righteous go to heaven immediately upon dying, neither he nor any other Bible student would have any
question about the living going to heaven before those who died in years past. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven
with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are
alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with
the Lord.” (1 Thes. 4:13-18)

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man
also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order:
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Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to
the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power… The last enemy that will be abolished is
death… So also is the resurrection of the dead… Behold, I tell you a mystery. We will not all sleep, but we will all be
changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised
imperishable, and we will be changed... But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put
on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory… through our Lord Jesus
Christ. (1 Cor. 15:20-58). If, for some, “death” means living somewhere in a place called hell, then this verse lies, for
death would not then be abolished as the verse indicates.

Imagine you are both the parent and the judge of a child who steals an item that costs $1.00. Would you sentence him to 25
years in prison or give him the death penalty? Of course you would do neither. Both of those options are disproportionate to the
crime. No just judge, let alone a parent, would inflict such punishment. Also, should one believe in a hell of eternal torment, he
must be kinder and more loving than God Himself. For the eternal torment that he attributes to God is hugely disproportionate
to even the longest life ever lived on earth. Put it in another way, believing in eternal torment, contrary to the evidence we have
seen throughout the Bible, aligns someone with Satan. For he is tacitly agreeing that Satan’s accusations are true, saying that
God is not really all just and all merciful.

In closing I would like to leave you with some homework, more thought-provoking questions:
1. Although we should not base our beliefs on other humans, such as church fathers, reformers, etc, one will do well to check out
their view on these subjects, especially on the issue of consciousness in death, millennium, annihilation, etc. You will be
surprised finding out that although you may bear the name of one of the reformers, such as Luther or Wesley, you actually have
no common beliefs with them. Just google it!

2. Every single symbol in the tabernacle the Lord told Moses to build pointed to God, to His character, as it’s been demonstrated
in the Plan of Redemption. That’s why the psalmist says: “Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary.” (Ps. 77:13). It is
unanimously agreed that the altar of sacrifice represents the cross event, the Lamb of God who takes the sins of the world, our
slain Passover. But how do we know that Jesus was actually the true Messiah? Are you familiar with the prophesy of Daniel
9:25-27 (must be taken in context with Daniel 2, 7, & 8)? It is the only one that irrevocably singles Him out as the only true one,
the one that provides us with the time element of every step of the Plan of Redemption. Here, in Daniel, we were given the year
of His crucifixion. Check it out!

Through the symbols of the Holy of Holies we find out that the showbread and the candlestick (menorah) both represented
Christ too: “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world.” The altar of incense represented His prayer, mediation,
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intercession (Rev. 8:4). When was that symbol fulfilled? Hebrews 8 tells us when - when he ascended to heaven: “The main
point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in
heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being. (Heb. 8:1,2)

Moving into the Holy of Holies, called so because it was here where the presence of God was manifested, we find the symbols
of God’s character – justice (the Ten Commandments), and mercy (Mercy Seat). The High Priest entered there only once a year,
on the Day of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), a day of judgment, when the final act of God’s deliverance work was
performed. It was the holiest day of the year and most important of all the services of the Sanctuary. On that day the fate of
every believer was decided. The question you need to struggle with is this: When was, if it was, or will be, the symbol of the
Day of Atonement fulfilled in the ministry of Christ? If the time of the fulfillment of other “less” important symbols was
given, shouldn’t we also expect that the time of the fulfillment of this one be also evident in the prophecies? The reality is
that Christianity, contrary to the emphasis put by the Bible on this symbol, has completely ignored this. Considering that the
cross represents your justification, the walk from the altar into the Holy Place your sanctification, and the work in the Holy of
Holies your glorification, you would not want to miss out on that. As a hint, read Daniel 8:14 within its context. If you need any
help, get back to us.

3. By the way, what does the Bible say about judgment? When is that supposed to take place? If you think it is at or after the
Second Coming then you must remember that by that time the verdict, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is
filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still” is already
given. (Rev. 22:11) The presence of the two resurrections, and the judicial system, demand that a judgment takes place before a
verdict is given. Interesting, isn’t it? Have you thought of this? Let the Scripture and reason guide you!

At your service
Well, there are so many other vital issues and questions that we could look at, but we will leave it here for now. If this material
provoked your thinking and you want to unearth more truths from your Bible, we are available for Bible studies, seminars, and
any other appropriate speaking appointments at our place or yours. Also check our website for a variety of other activities and
services.

Contact Information
Heaven’s Citizens International Ministries
615 N Main St., Mitchell, SD 57301
Ph. #: (605) 540-9005 or (951) 505-2019
HCIMinistries@yahoo.com
Valtiroty@yahoo.com
Valtiroty.com