A mother who professed to believe in Christ and defended the doctrine of eternal torment once stood with her children, watching a cat play with a mouse before it devoured the rodent. She couldn’t stand to watch, so she took her children and retreated to the house.
What was this mouse to them? It was only a disease-bearing pest which, if having opportunity, would contaminate food stores, crops, and drinking water, which reportedly it did with them. Yet in their carnality, they had sympathy for that mouse.
“That cat was cruel!” she remarked. Really? How cruel was that mouse’s fate compared to a human doomed to everlasting torment, as she alleged would happen?
Consider that the cat probably had the mouse in shock, so that it felt no pain – a provision of God in nature for the mouse’s benefit. Consider that the cat devoured the mouse to sustain itself, not to forever torment it.
Jesus constantly used elements and events in nature to teach spiritual truth. Where do we find eternal torment taught in any of God’s creation? We don’t. What good would there be in tormenting a soul forever?
Consider that the mouse couldn’t reason or feel guilt or regret, as we can. Yet the purveyors of this doctrine of devils combine mental anguish with horrific physical pain for those most unfortunate souls who didn’t seem quite as wise in their choice of life.
Consider that the mouse wasn’t made in God’s image and, like sparrows (Luke 12:6-7) and grass (Isaiah 40:8), had so little value compared to a human being.
Consider that the mouse didn’t have the torment of lost loved ones it would miss or which would miss it. Furthermore, the mouse didn’t have loved ones chosen to have the cat’s favor, ecstatically enjoying company with the cat, while watching the mouse being tormented and eaten, yet never devoured.
Finally, the cat wasn’t the all-loving being that God is taught to be and of which the Scriptures bear witness. When did a cat ever lay down its life for all mice?
How can we so foolishly and ignorantly believe an all-loving God would take those who didn’t believe on Jesus Christ in this life and damn them to horrific torment forever? How should we believe He would even equip them with a special body to suffer destruction and immense pain forever, yet never be destroyed? All this for the sole purpose of making them continually suffer?
According to this atrocious doctrine, a trillion years from now, the damned will continue to scream and writhe in terrible agony with no respite, the torment only beginning. In the meantime, the One Who laid down His life for them, and then put them in those circumstances, is at rest with His beloved, enjoying fellowship with them and they with Him. The friends and relatives who didn’t believe are forever imprisoned in constant horrible agony, but that doesn’t seem to bother either the One Who gave Himself to put away suffering and to wipe away all tears, or the ones whose tears have been wiped away. You can just hear them singing the hymn, “Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory,” drowning out the shrieks of their wretched husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who didn’t believe.
The unbelieving will forever suffer, and for what? Will they ever believe? No. The saved can sit there licking their ice cream cones, saying, “We told you so! See, we weren’t as stupid as you thought! We’re good and you’re bad.” And God will say to those suffering, “You didn’t believe Me! You had your chance. Now eat your hearts out – forever.”
What good could possibly be served by souls forever suffering excruciating pain? Would that not make agonizing punishment the Omega, instead of Jesus Christ, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8)? Is it not in God’s power to mercifully put a suffering creature out of its misery? Can He not take life, as well as give it?
Would God enjoy Himself with others, and they with Him, while others suffer so? What kind of horrid disposition would do that? In our God-given nature, even a fallen lawless one, we cringe at the thought of rulers who, without conscience or feeling, impose their cruel wills on people who are possibly guilty of unspeakable crimes. Yet many are found preaching a God Who far surpasses the cruelty of all the worst of men that ever lived on earth combined, while calling Him a God of compassion.
Jesus once said, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask?” (Matthew 7:11) If this woman, being evil, can’t handle a beast’s temporary, tempered torment in the present order of things, how would the Father in Heaven, being good, be willing to forever preside, with His children, over the eternal torment of persons once created in His image?
And He doesn’t even eat them after they’re toasted! How utterly diabolical a doctrine this is! This doctrine was concocted by Satan, who savors the things of men, to paralyze souls with fear. It isn’t through fear of evil we’re saved, however, but by God’s loving grace through faith. It isn’t by the driving of men, but by the drawing of the Father that we enter the Kingdom of God.
At Harvest Haven, we raise sheep. Drive them, and they’re frightened; lead them, and they follow. When they’re frightened, they don’t go where they need to go. Fear-mongering doctrines ought to sound the alarm that there’s something amiss.
Yes, the KJV says there’s torment in the Lake of Fire forever and ever. If you search the Scriptures, however, you’ll find “forever” doesn’t mean “forever,” the way we use the word (read The True, Scriptural Meanings of “Forever,” “Everlasting,” and “Hell”).
“As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, committing fornication, and going away after other flesh, laid down an example before-times, undergoing vengeance of everlasting fire” (Jude 1:7 MKJV).
Yet God promises to return Sodom to a former state of prosperity, along with whoring Israel:
Ezekiel 16:53-55 MKJV
(53) When I shall return their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, then also the captivity of your captivity in their midst;
(54) that you may bear your shame, and blush in all that you have done, since you are a comfort to them.
(55) When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former state, then you and your daughters shall return to your former state.
Obviously God doesn’t mean “forever” or “everlasting” as carnal men have interpreted His sayings.
Speaking of everlasting (eternal) fire, what is its purpose? Is it literal or figurative? And what does “eternal” mean?
The “Lake of Fire” is figurative, as is “fire” when it speaks of our being baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Not that a spiritual fire is any less powerful and painful than a literal one, but it is a fire that corrects, purges, and purifies, for a good end. It is not a fire that forever punishes for evil’s sake.
One hears this objection when answering the doctrine of eternal suffering: “Yes, God is love, but He’s also a just God, and we must pay the penalty for our sins if we don’t repent.”
Doesn’t the Bible say it’s God Who causes us to will and to do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)? How can we claim any credit? Isn’t it by grace through faith that we’re saved, that faith not being of ourselves, but a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-10)? Doesn’t that mean He gives faith freely to those who don’t deserve it?
Vindictive, petty, vicious, unspeakably cruel, and merciless creatures we are, making God into our own image. We play a tyrannical god in the lives of those we seek to control, by threatening them with the worst possible consequences if they don’t comply with our will. That’s what sin does to our thinking and attitude. But Jesus Christ isn’t like that:
“Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that they who are accounted rulers over the nations exercise lordship over them. And their great ones exercise authority on them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant’” (Mark 10:42-43 MKJV).
Read Whose Will Is Free?, and peruse our section The Restitution of All Things, especially The Great Promise of the Lake of Fire and the Second Death, The True, Scriptural Meanings of “Forever,” “Everlasting,” and “Hell”, and The State and Fate of Hell.
Consider the alternative to believing this doctrine: Who knows? You may even come to love God if you repented and got to know Him as He is!