Why MUST hell be eternal? (Part 1)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Hebrews 5:11-6:3
  • Daniel 12:1-2
  • Isaiah 66:24
  • Isaiah 38:18
  • Proverbs 27:20
  • Psalms 9:5-7
  • Psalms 81:14-15
  • Psalm 92:5-8
  • Revelation 19:20
  • Revelation 20:10-15
  • Revelation 21:6-8
  • Isaiah 66:22-24
  • Revelation 14:9-11

Is this topic complicated?

When talking about whether or not hell is eternal, many people see this as a topic that has no clear answer. Over the years many different scholars have written different books to try and explain one side of this issue or another. I have often talked to people who have been in ministry for years who after reading several books, are afraid to even come close to touching this topic in any bible study. The question is, does it really take scholarly research and hours of studying commentaries to understand this topic?

The short answer is no, if you just plainly read the bible you will find it’s straight forward. In fact, this topic is actually a foundational topic in Christianity. A while ago I talked about several lists of things that the bible considers foundational. When you get to Hebrews chapter 6 you find it listed as foundational. But, the conversation on this foundational topic does not start in chapter 6. Instead, the tone of the list changes greatly when you go back to chapter 5 and read into chapter 6. 

5:11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Hebrews 5:11-6:3 ESV

Once you step back and look at the context of this list, it makes a lot of the arguments and mountains of books on this topic seem rather silly. For many reading outside of the academic world, you might think why would people fuss around with something that is “elementary.” It turns out, it is not because the bible says that has a problem, it is what that means if it is true. 

There are 3 major views on this topic. Of course, like many things, there are many variations of these views and different degrees to which people believe them. 

  • Universality: everyone will eventually go to heaven
  • Annihilationism: After the great judgment, everyone who is in or goes to hell, will stop existing in the new creation
  •  Traditional view: This is can be considered what most people consider the normal idea of what hell is like.

Overall there are two major issues that are addressed by each of these views:

  1. Will hell last forever? 
  2. will everyone go to heaven?

Will you feel hell?

I previously talked about this topic. But in the context of these different views, there is a question of how long will you feel the “punishment” of hell. In the traditional view, hell is seen as a place of torment and torture forever. Once one comes across this idea, naturally the question is to then ask the ethics of this view, and because of that, some challenge the traditional view in different ways. 

The reason I bring this up is that, if you are in hell, will you feel it the whole time you are there? This might seem rather simple, but in the case of Annihilationism, you often have some type of answer to this long the lines of, you will not feel anything because you will cease to exist. From here there is the question of, will you feel anything the whole duration of being in hell? that is as long as hell exists do you feel something? 

24 And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.

Isaiah 66:24 ESV

18 For Sheol does not thank you; death does not praise you; those who go down to the pit do not hope for your faithfulness.

Isaiah 38:18 ESV

1 At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Daniel 12:1-2 ESV

Of course, there are many other bible verses that talk about the torment of hell lasting forever. When you bring even more bible verse in it becomes clear that as long as hell exists, those in hell will feel something. But in these verses, there is something else. Notice that it talk about them feeling a lack of hope, feeling shame, contempt, and so on. People in hell do feel something; it is not just physical. In order to feel something, you have to exist and this does invoke some level of consciousness. The only question left is, how long does this last?

Will hell exist in the new creation?

Often we have a different perception of things simply because we have been trained to think a specific way for many years. Asking a question like this would be an easy way to get someone kick out of a church if you don’t approach it with a correct frame of reference. If hell lasts forever, then where is it if God recreates heaven and the earth? Couldn’t begin to answer that question, but we do find some strange details:

5 You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever. 6 The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.

Psalm 9:5-6 ESV

14 I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. 15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever.

Psalm 81:14-15 ESV

5 How great are your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep! 6 The stupid man cannot know; the fool cannot understand this: 7 that though the wicked sprout like grass and all evildoers flourish, they are doomed to destruction forever; 8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.

Psalm 92:5-8 ESV

When looking at these passges, the word used for forever in each of these passages is עוֹלָם H5769 – `owlam: always, forever, continually. The the question then rises, if hell is tempruary, isn’t that a contradiction? How can something be continuase and last forever and then when the new creation starts it no long exist. Some might try to conjure arguments that time has a relationship with space and use some modern physics to say that, that time ends and there is a new time now. If that sounds complicated don’t worry we have more Bible verses to help us. 

One thing we can do is track different places we see hell when it comes close to the new creation. Once you do that this whole question instantly goes away. Of course, there is the question of what is hell really which I talk about before. We can make the assumption that the lake of fire is the final judgment and the “final hell.”

20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

Revelation 19:20 ESV

10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

Revelation 20:10-11 ESV

From here we find this judgment of hell last until the great white throne judgment. Now a lot of people would just assume that is the end. But if you stop to think about it for a moment, there is a problem. If this is the end, how can then be tormented night and day forever if there is no more time? This is literally the last moment of this earth. After this is a “new time” and a new creation. If you keep reading you find something even more disturbing:

6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

Revelation 21:6-8 ESV

Here we find the new heavens and the new earth are created and Jesus (who is the alpha and omega) even says it is over. Yet right after that, after the new creation, we find that the second death is still around. Of course, this is not the only place we find this. In the old testament we also find a graphic image as to why it is still around:

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. 23 From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD. 24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

Isaiah 66:22-24 ESV

Here we find that in the new heaven and new earth, again there is still this image of hell persisting and it serves as a reminder. 

Side note

Just to clarify something, the second death is supposed to be away from the presence of God. I talked about before how some bible verse talks about God’s presence being in “hell.” But when we get to the second death, there is a final removal of hell, all together. Context can be important as we find some verse that talks about those in hell being punished in the presence of God. the important thing to remember is when this happens. For instance, in revelation, this is happening before the final judgment and the new creation.

9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

Revelation 14:9-11 ESV

5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

2 Thessalonians 1:5-9 ESV

Why is Satan NOT in hell yet? (Part 1)

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Job 1:6
  • Revelation 20:1-3
  • Romans 6:23
  • Luke 10:18, Job 1
  • Genesis 3:1-7
  • 2 Corinthians 11:13-14
  • 2 Corinthians 11:3
  • Revelation 12:9, 20:2
  • John 8:44
  • Matthew 3:7
  • Matthew 23:29-33
  • Genesis 2:17
  • 1 Timothy 2:13-14
  • Genesis 2:21-22
  • Job 38:7
  • Jude 1:6
  • 1 John 3:8, John 8:44
  • Genesis 1:29-30
  • John 16:7-11, John 12:31, John 14:30

Let’s set this up a bit

We find that in Matthew 25:41 that hell was created for Satan and his angels. This seems straightforward until you start thinking about it. Why isn’t Satan in hell? His punishment was already created? So why is he around now? We can see clearly that there are several situations where Satan is active and clearly not in hell:

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Job 1:6 ESV

Similarly, you find that Satan is around when he is tempting Jesus. Clearly, something about this picture seems off. Some people try to have an explanation saying that Satan is already in hell or that maybe he is bound. Then some say he still interacts even bound or some say he doesn’t don’t interact with us at all. Turns out both aren’t true (especially the second one) because of some of the passages that describe when and how Satan will be bound. We find in Revelation a future event, that is still not even him being finally bound.

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be released for a little while. … 7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison … 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:1-3, 7, 10 ESV

Following that, we also know that God is a just God and he must punish sin. Like talked about before, God does hold every sin accountable and to a pretty extreme degree:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 ESV

What in the world does that mean? We will talk about it another day because it’s a cool topic. But today we just want to focus on the fact that Satan is not currently in hell. 

People often have a hard time when talking about this because we say Satan fell, but what does that mean? We find in Job that while it seems Satan is clearly not good (as the word here for Satan literally means the adversary h7854). We also see that Satan is still in heaven. If he fell what does it mean? Because we say Satan fell from heaven yet here he is in heaven? Of course, we can ask several questions about what does it mean for Satan to “fall.”

  • Was he punished?
  • Was his punishment full?
  • Was his title removed?
  • What title was it?
  • Was his power removed?
  • What type of power?
  • Was he removed from going to heaven? 
  • Is this removal from heaven past, present, or future? (Luke 10:18)
  • Was he removed from Authority?
  • What type of Authority is this?
  • Was he removed from God’s presence?
  • Was he removed forever?

When you start looking at these questions, some are straightforward, others we can’t answer, and yet some seem to be debatable. Even though some seem to be in effect you really need to split hairs on how you answer these questions and you will probably find scholars debating about this issue.

When did Satan fall?

So now that we established that Satan did fall at some point, now comes the question, when did he fall? Depending on how you answer this question affects how you answer the previous questions. To a larger degree, this actually complicates things when you really look at it, Satan falls before most of those questions. Even still some of those questions seem to be partly answered in the future as well. But we try to establish the question in a more familiar context for many people. Did Satan fall before Adam? With Adam or after Adam? And was Satan the serpent in the garden?

Was the Serpent Satan?

Now to deal with this age-old question. Then you look at Genesis 3, it does not directly state that Satan was in the garden tempting Eve. A lot of people say that it was a serpent (as in a literal animal). Then many questions come into play, why is the animal talking? To make things even more complicated there are old Jewish traditions that come from some non-biblical books (that are often full of problems). What we will do is stick to what the Bible actually says and see if we can deal with this issue.

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:13-14 ESV

We often assume from culture and our media that Satan is this ugly monster with horns and red skin, probably carrying a pitchfork. But that is not the picture we get from this passage (or Ezekiel). But note that it says, “disguises himself.” that doesn’t mean he looks like an angel of light but that he can look like one. How does this work? No clue, but to some degree, Satan can change his appearance. Of course, history is full of people who claimed an angel came to them giving them “new revelation.” Not going to take the time to jab at different situations but you can quickly start thinking of when Satan probably did this in the past. Just gonna leave this here:

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:6-8 ESV

We find that Satan is heavily connected to the serpent in many different ways. One thing, we find that the serpent is talked about specifically in 2 Corinthians.

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

Interestingly enough, John writes in revelation about an “ancient serpent” and directly calls it Satan. On top of that, the word for Serpent in all three passages use the same Greek word ὄφις G3789 – ophis. 

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world–he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Revelation 12:9 ESV

2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

Revelation 20:2 ESV

We can look at some other verse to get some sense of this too. For instance, we find several occasions when Jesus and John the Baptist had a conversation with some of the Pharisees and they make some exchanges. 

6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Matthew 3:6-7 ESV

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

Matthew 23:29-33 ESV

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44 ESV

Here we find that the Pharisees are being so bad, that they are being compared to serpents. That then is extended as they are children of a serpent (symbolically) and their father is Satan (presentable a serpent). This is just a bunch of food for thought that might indicate that it was Satan who was directly involved in some way. But again many scholars debate over this issue.

Timing the fall of Satan

So back to something a bit more relevant. When did Satan fall? Was it before Adam, during Adam, or After Adam? Well, we do know something, it was probably after Adam was created. How can one say this? There are several clues to indicate this. First I talked before about how the angels were around when God created the Earth. We find this in Job 38:7 as I mentioned before. So it is safe to say that much. I also talk a bit in a previous post when talking about the issue of “the gap theory” and deal with some issues of Satan’s fall. From there you can rule out that Satan did not fall before creation was completed for several reasons. 

Now we get to another issue that comes in to play here. There were also other angels who fell (Jude 1:6). Did Satan fall with these angels? Clearly, they sinned and Satan sinned, so what’s the difference? If Satan sinned after them, then there doesn’t seem to be a justification for why Satan isn’t punished the same way. If Satan fell before them, What makes Satan’s situation different? Several passages point to the fact that Satan was most likely the first one to fall or at vary less they all fell with Satan. For instance, the passage mentioned previously (John 8:44, ) mentions that he was full of sin from the beginning. 

8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

1 John 3:8 ESV

Of course in the biblical context, we know that in the beginning “beginning” Satan was not evil. He was created with a purpose by God (which we can see in Ezekiel).  Clearly, after he was originally created he fell. Looking back at some of the passages from Revelation which call him an “ancient serpent” further points out that the beginning was most likely around the time of Genesis 3. The mention that he was the “father of lies” indicates that he was the first person to lie. Again beating all this to death, the first time a lie exists (as we can see in the Bible) is when the Serpent lied to Eve telling her that she will not die if she eats the fruit. So in terms of the question of Satan falling with the angels, more than likely he fell either before or with them.

But there is still a question that is lingering. What makes Satan’s situation so different? Clearly, Satan sinned, and clearly, he is not in hell. Why did (or doesn’t) God judge Satan with hell like he was planning to? After all of this, we come to the conclusion that something about Satan’s falling seems to be special. If God could just judge Satan he would have. One might say “Satan was judged on the cross,” which is true to some degree, but looking at the passage from Revelation 20, Satan is still not judged with Hell like he was supposed to be. Why not? What exactly is God waiting for? That will be explored next time.

Consequences of Satan not being in hell

There is another issue that we need to talk about. If I ask you who owns the world, you might be tempted to say God does. But it turns out that is not true. When you look back at the beginning you find God does something interesting:

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Genesis 1:27-30 ESV

Here we find that God gives over authority of the earth to man. So if I ask that question, who owns the earth, you might say man does right? It turns out that is not true anymore. It was true then, but after the fall that is no longer true. We find that Satan controls this world. 

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.

John 12:31 ESV

30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

John 14:30 ESV

7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

John 16:7-11 ESV

Clearly, God does not own the earth, Jesus isn’t in control of the earth and man is not in control of the earth. Someone else is in control. If you remember the temptation of Jesus, Satan offers Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. You would think Jesus would have brought up some Bible verse about God owning the earth, but he doesn’t. But then there is another question for next time, why does Satan seem to have control?

What are the effects of sin?

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Genesis 3:14-15
  • Genesis 2:16-17
  • Genesis 3:16-19
  • Romans 8:20-22
  • 2 Samual 12:19-23
  • Psalms 5:4
  • Genesis 3:7,21-23
  • Romans 5:12

The first prophecy

  After man sinned there is a lot that happened, most of which we still don’t get answers to in the text. But before we get there, we need to look at a classic oddity of the passage. We find that God addresses Adam, Eve, and then the serpent. When this happens God gives a “punishment” to each in this order. But what happens to the serpent is rather strange. 

14 The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

We get a strange issue here, there are two seeds presented. And then we get this seed personified as a man. Often scholars will often note that this is one of the first prophecies in the Bible. Interestingly enough this relates to several different prophecies that we find that get more details later in scripture. The first is relatively clear and it is that of the Messiah (The Christ). From the new testament, this is clear that Jesus came to defeat Satan on the cross. The second has to do with the issue of childbirth. What is interesting is that it deals with the woman’s birth. Later we get more details about how this is a virgin birth and that the Messiah comes from the line of David. There is another way to look at it after you see this connection. Throughout the old testament, you find that Satan is constantly trying to destroy the line of David. Whether if it is trying to destroy it from happening (killing the babies in Egypt), trying to destroy Isreal all together (all the wars Isreal goes into), or through corrupting the royal line (by using idolatry and the like). We can find that Satan is constantly trying to stop Jesus from accomplishing his mission all the way to even trying to get him from not dying on the cross. Of course, that is a discussion for another time. 

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:11-13 ESV

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 ESV

40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?”

John 7:40-42 ESV

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Jeremiah 23:5-6 ESV

The changes of sin

Back to the major issues of the chapter. What is not clear directly from the chapter until you look at the rest of the scripture and also reflect on what is actually happening here. In a strange way, we find that somehow sin affects the physical world in some way. Exactly how is not clear, but the effects of sin are not just limited to actions people commit and only deals between people. We will take this in two parts, the changes to man and the changes to creation. 

The changes to Man

First things first, did God lie? Obviously, God does not lie and I talk about how God can’t lie before. But we need to address an apparent contradiction. How is it that God said before that if they eat the fruit they will die and here they didn’t die when they ate the fruit?

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:16-17 ESV

It turns out Man physically dying is not because of the fruit, it is because of God (this will be addressed later on). Something else must be at play here, but what is it? Adam doesn’t physically die, but he spiritually dies. From this point on, we find that God’s relationship with man changes in many ways. For one, we find that God can’t be in the presence of sin. 

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.

Psalm 5:4 ESV

2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.

Isaiah 59:2 ESV

Sin separates us from God, so on some level, sin has permanently changed how God interacts with us. How exactly of course is subject to debate. On the one had God still speaks to people and God still influences us even when we are not aware of it. But one could argue this is why the new testament talks about being born again. The concept that our spirit is cut off and “dead,” so we are no longer connected to God. This could be the point that God was trying to make when God originally said Adam would die if he eats the fruit. He doesn’t physically die, instead, he is forever changed. The change is that he is dead to God, he will never be the same because of it.

Now we get to the wacky stuff that just opens a bunch of questions we can’t really answer. What about all this other stuff that happens? God tells Adam and Eve that all this stuff will not be different.

16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16 ESV

What does this mean? It seems clear the Eve never had a child before this, for several other reasons. One being that after this section Adam calls Eve the mother of the living. Which could imply that after this she starts giving birth. Of course, we would probably find other arguments like if this happens early on in the life of Adam and Eve, they might not have had time to have children yet and so on. But why does it seem that childbirth changed? If they never sinned, would it not be painful at all? Or would it be less painful? 

The changes to Creation

Then we look at most of the stuff that happens with Adam. Interestingly enough, the changes don’t happen to Adam directly like Eve. To some degree, it seems she was physically changed but not with Adam. 

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:17-19 ESV

We find all these changes happen with the ground and the plants, not Adam. The question is why is it cursed? Is it cursed because God changed this? Is it cursed because sin caused a change? It is because later we find Adam kicked out of the garden and in the garden all the thorns where take care of? To some degree living in the garden, it makes sense why he doesn’t have to struggle to eat “by the sweat of your face.” In the garden, everything presumably would be well worked on and all Adam had to do was take care of the garden of it after God formed it (Genesis 2:8, 15). 

But then it gets stranger. It seems all of creation is affected by the issue of sin. So much so that the creation is destroyed and started over.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:20-23 ESV

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,

2 Peter 3:9-11 ESV

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Revelation 21:1 ESV

The question is, how can sin that man commits have such a drastic change in even the physical world? That will be addressed next time. 

Problematic question

While we are talking about changes, we need to address a contradiction that I had previously fallen into. It has to do with what it means to live in a sinful mortal body. We will need to come back another day to further address this but we have an issue.

Does living in a mortal body inherently mean you are sinful or means you committed a sin even from birth? 

This is a subtle question and the problem comes in what you start considering what it actually means and its implication on scripture. We know that all men have fallen short and sinned (except Jesus). But does that mean just simply being born means you are destined for hell? 

In short that can’t be true. For starters, Jesus was born in a human body [John 1:14, Galatians 4:4, and others]. This is part of his dual nature we see in scripture he was both man and divine. So if simply living in a mortal body makes you inherently sinful, then we have a problem with Jesus. 

The second problem is a bit more subtle. Remember in the old testament, when David committed adultery with Bathsheba? Everyone remembers the story, but few people talk about the weirdness that happens after it. It is expected that a child is on the way and David is told the child will die. So David is on his knees praying to God until something happens. 

19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

2 Samuel 12:19-23 ESV

Why does David get up like nothing happened after his child dies? His remark is even stranger. He said that he will go to him, when will that be? When David dies. Where will they meet? Presumably in heaven. In the context of this problem, the child dies and goes to heaven, but the child is born, did the child sin? If simply being human and living in a mortal body is sinful, wouldn’t something need to be done about this?

What to do with Man’s sin

Getting back to the point, here Adam and Eve have disobeyed God. But now the question is what does God do about it? When you follow up with the passage there are some subtitles that may not be expected. We see what God does to the serpent, Eve, and then Adam, but that is not it. If you continue, it turns out there is more to how God deals with the situation.

7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. … 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever–” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 3:7, 21-23 ESV

Some people like to know the difference between God’s covering and man’s covering. When Adam and Eve cover themselves from their nakedness (which there is a question of why is this now different), they pick leaves. Leaven will wither away and they are not sturdy, they are easily blown by the wind and so on. When God does so, it is with the skin presumably of an animal, in some sense maybe leather? What God does will far outlast what man does. Man’s attempt to cover himself will never last before God, which is why it takes God to show man the correct way to do things. Of course, the fact that God uses animal skins is important which we will talk about another day.

But we are not done here. Notice that this is in effect, the first death penalty in history. God does not want Man to live forever in sin so he purposely makes sure man does not live forever. God kicked Adam out of the garden. Once that happens, now man will die. Later we get to the new testament: 

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

Romans 5:12 ESV

Of course, there is more to talk about here, how does God follow up and why this death penalty and how it really is in line with the rest of the Bible. 

The first act of mercy and grace

While we are here, we need to talk about one final thing. We need to talk about why God is justified in what he did here. Yes, we will do this taboo thing because someone will ask the question, “Was it fair for God to just do that? They didn’t know better…” and on and on.

As a shortcut, we find in the Bible that God is a just God and he must punish sin. And as talked about previously, Hell is the punishment for sin that is already set up for Satan and his Angels (Matthew 25:41). But yet, we find that God is a God of love, mercy, and grace. But let’s define mercy and grace as I already talked previously about how God is a loving God.  

  • Mercy: Not getting what you deserve.
  • Grace: Getting what you don’t deserve

Adam and Eve sinned, therefore they should have been punished. And God did punish them, but not to the full extent we see later in the Bible. What God did, by kicking them out of the Garden was an act of mercy. We will see later that now, man will not live forever in sin which is the least they deserve if not hell; to live with the consequences of their sins. But God loves them so much he decided to intervene. He has mercy on them by not letting them live forever in sin. Already this starts with some grace, giving them this gift. But then God extends even more grace, God is in the works of finding a way to restore them. They don’t deserve to have God restore them (mercy), yet God finds a way to regardless of what they did (grace).

Man’s First Sin

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Romans 5:12
  • Genesis 3:1-7
  • Hebrews 4:14-16
  • Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13
  • James 1:13-15
  • Deuteronomy 8:3,6:16, 6:13, Psalms 91:11-21
  • Exodus 17:1-7
  • Luke 1:13, 18-20, 30-31, 34-35
  • Genesis 4:5-7
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13

The major issue

Before I talked about how Hell was created for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  There is an issue, what about man? Why do people go to hell? We can find that Satan and his angels sinned and that is why they go to Hell, but man is also in that same boat. 

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–

Romans 5:12 ESV

In order to understand this, we need to look back to when this event first happened. Going back to Genesis 3, we get the story of the first sin of man:

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Genesis 3:1-7 ESV

Here we find that Adam and Eve directly take from the fruit that God said not to. From here is when they first disobey God and have sinned. There is something sublet to this as well. This is not just the first time we see sin, this is also the first time we see temptation.

Temptation

Often we don’t distinguish the sin and temptation but we can find that in the Bible, sin and temptation are not the same things. All become someone is tempted does not mean they have sinned otherwise we are in trouble. Jesus was tempted in the Bible and in every way we have been.

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

Of course, this is not the only time we find references to Jesus being tempted. Satan tempted Jesus and you can find this in 3 of the 4 Gospels: Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13. In this, you can find that Satan makes several claims, and then Jesus quotes scripture back at Satan. What interesting thing is, Jesus doesn’t give us the full picture. He quotes from Deuteronomy the whole time. Of course, we also glance over how Satan misquotes Psalms 91:11-13 (by omission). That could be a whole topic in itself. But what is interesting is what Jesus actually quotes and the context of what he quotes.

6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Matthew 4:6-7 ESV

11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

Psalm 91:11-13 ESV

15 for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God–lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. 16 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Deuteronomy 6:15-16 ESV

Often people will note Jesus quotes scripture at Jesus and then a few would like to look it up and say this is what he quotes. But with this quote, there is something missing. What is missing is the whole context of what happened at Massah.

1 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Exodus 17:1-7 ESV

Often people wonder about this and say what does it mean to “test” or “tempt God” specifically when James says God can’t be tempted. But what is interesting here is that the issue is that they questioned his power, the authority and questioned whether or not God had good intentions to do something. This is different than saying God if you are really…. Often people ask God to move in their life during different situations. But again that is different after you spent a while in the desert literally seeing God produce a miracle everyday nd then questioning where God is. Similarly, you can find the same situation happen in Luke 1:

13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. … 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

Luke 1:13, 18-20 ESV

30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. … 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.

Luke 1:30-31, 34-35 ESV

On the surface, it looks like Zechariah and Mary ask the same question. Is this possible? But there is a difference in how they ask. Zechariah (being a mature member of the temple doing a religious ceremony) questions if God could really do something like this. Of course, he should have remembered the story of Abraham, but he did. His intentions were not correct from the core of the question outward. Mary on the other hand is asking out of ignorance. She genuinely doesn’t know how this could happen but does not deny the fact that it will happen. 

The seeds of Temptation

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:12-15 ESV

From here it is clear that there is a difference between temptation and sin. This is exactly what happens to Eve in the garden when you go back and read how she “logically” decided the fruit was safe to eat. 

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Genesis 3:6 ESV

Of course, there is another situation in the Bible with temptation that happens shortly after this. It is with Cain and Abel. God addresses Cain’s temptation before he even kills Abel. 

5 but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. 6 The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” 8 Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him.

Genesis 4:5-8 ESV

But there is a good side to things. We always look at the problem of sin but forget that there is hope at the end.

13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

Often we act as if our problems are completely new and no one has ever dealt with our sin before. Of course, that is not true others have dealt with the same sin we have, just not in the same way we have. But there is hope at the ends because remember Jesus:

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV

We should have hope that even in our situation, there is hope that we can get the victory and that it is possible. Why? Because at least one man was able to do it. It may take time but God is able to deliver is and give us victory over anything. But we do need to get back to the point. We have sinned. God can help us with the recovery from sin, but what does he do with our crimes of sin?

Does hell exist

Bible verse used in the podcast

  • Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 42:5, John 1:1-3
  • Genesis 2:2
  • Isaiah 45:7
  • Isaiah 14:12-14
  • Luke 10:17-19
  • Ezekial 28:11-17
  • Job 1:6, Job 38:4-7
  • John 1:12
  • 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6
  • Revelations 1:26, 9:1, 12:4
  • Matthew 25:41

Did God really create everything?

Of course, we would say yes to this. As a Christian, it is believed that God created everything. We can find this all throughout the Bible:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 ESV

5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:

Isaiah 42:5 ESV

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

John 1:1-3 ESV

Some extra verse: Romans 1:19-20, Colossians 1:16-17, Hebrews 11:3

With this solidified in our brains as being so trivial, it is almost subconscious; there is a problem. What are the implications of that? Did God really create EVERYTHING? How far does that actually go? As the title suggests, does that mean that an all-loving, merciful, just God created Hell? Many people might want to say no simply because they feel this doesn’t fit the character of God. But all because It feels like it is not right, doesn’t mean it isn’t. For instance, Did God create good and evil? We would think a perfect God that only does good and can’t sin wouldn’t create evil right?

7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Isaiah 45:7 KJV

Here we find that God is guilty of creating evil, so what do we do. I talk about this previously when talking about if God is a loving God so we won’t go down that path again. But now what about Hell? Did God create Hell? In order to answer this, we need to look at the origins of Hell and ask another question.

Did God create Satan?

Clearly, the answer is, God created Satan. But how could God create something that is inherently evil? That would be the way many would think. After all, we find several verses that indicate that Satan is “evil.”

12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! 13 You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

Isaiah 14:12-14 ESV

17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

Luke 10:17-19 ESV

From here we see that Satan wanted to be like God (whatever that means) but we also see that Satan fell. But what did he fall from? Yes, he fell from heaven, but what does that mean? 

12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

Ezekiel 28:12-17 KJV

We find this illusion about Satan and here we discover a lot of information. Satan was originally meant to be a powerful angel for God. He has some worship abilities, he was full of wisdom (like Solomon); But oddly he was originally beautiful as opposed to our idea that he is ugly and clearly evil. Satan was created, not equal to God, and he is not the brother of Jesus. When God created Satan he was not meant to be evil but instead he fell not because of God, but because of his own pride.

Did Satan fall alone?

We need to explore the fall of Satan a bit more in order to understand hell. Of course, the topic of Hell goes along with the topic of sin.  We find that Satan sinned because of his own pride and he fell. But now we get to a question, did sin exist before Adam and Eve? I talk bout this previously but in the concept of Satan, it seems that the fall happened independently with Satan and with man. So at least on that level, sin exists independently of man. But it turns out Satan wasn’t the only one who sinned. 

So here is a question, when was Satan created? Clearly, he must have been created in Genesis 1:1, where God created heaven and earth. But what about Satan? We do find something interesting when looking at different passages that talk about creation. 

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Job 38:4-7 ESV

Who are the sons of God? It seems when God created the earth, other people where there? This is pretty simple because Job gives us some hints in the first chapter.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.

Job 1:6 ESV

Here we find that Satan comes in with the sons of God. These sons of God are separate from man (because they are looking down talking about a man, Job). Often in the old testament, the term sons of God refers to angels. Why are they called sons of God? Who else is a son of God? Well it turns out there are a few others:

38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Luke 3:38 ESV

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:9-11 ESV

After looking at the term son of God, we have the angels, Adam and Jesus. In context, they are all directly created from God. There is another group that is called sons of God:

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

John 1:12 ESV

As a Christain, when being born again, God turns you into a “new creation” and you become a son (or daughter) of God. You can often find that everyone is called a son of Adam or son of Man until you get to Jesus.

Getting back to the point, it turns out Satan was not the only angel who fell. We can find that others fell with him.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

2 Peter 2:4 ESV

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day–

Jude 1:6 ESV

Why does Hell exist?

So it turns out that Satan is not the only angel who fell. We find that they are “held” for some type of judgment. But now this brings us back to the point. Why was Hell created?

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:41 ESV

Hell was originally designed for Satan, not man. So now the question is, If it was made for Satan, why do humans go there?

Can Christians agree on anything? (Part 2)

Bible verse used in podcast:

  • John 13:34-35
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
  • Ephesians 4:11-16
  • 1 Corinthians 12:12-17
  • Psalms 139:13
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
  • Matthew 28:18-20
  • John 3:5-8
  • Hebrews 5:12-6:3

Interesting resources

Just to give some idea of what is considered foundational topics in different circles:

  1. https://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_theology
  3. https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/beliefs/basics_1.shtml
  4. https://www.equip.org/bible_answers/what-is-essential-christian-doctrine/
  5. https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-basic-christian-beliefs/
  6. https://www.learnreligions.com/basic-christian-beliefs-700357

Divisions in Christianity

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35 ESV

Such an important command from Jesus. Yet when an outsider sees the church, they see many different people who say they believe in a God of love, and yet they can’t agree on what they believe. Some denominations won’t work with others simply because they feel that others are wrong or they have traditional feuds that date back to historical context.

1 But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 ESV

When we think about one of the big objectives of Christianity, which is to teach others about Jesus, how would we do this if we don’t work together? Sure we might not agree on everything, but we should be united in the core issues of Christianity (which we will get to at the end).

Are differences bad?

But here is something to consider, we always see division as bad, but it is? Of course the way we think of division we would consider it bad, but we have a problem when looking at divisions in the church.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14 ESV

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.

1 Corinthians 12:12-16 ESV

God created each of us with our own taste, desires, and so on. It should be surprising that people think differently or want different things in life. Of course, sticking to the core of Christianity, shouldn’t divide us. But at the same time, there is a problem we have when looking at these differences. 

We tend to use 1 Corinthians 12 as looking at how all of us are a part of the Bible, but that is not the argument. The argument is when you look at the different collective groups of people. One side note is the word “church” in the greeks comes from ἐκκλησία (G1577 – ekklēsia) which means an assumable or gathering of people. When looking at it in that context, each “church” is a collection of individuals who are all different. They make up a “church” and each church is different from other churches, yet it is all under one name. 

This is important because just as quickly as we say something is division, it can be turned around to then be called diversity. Not every church (a group of people) like to worship using the same songs. Some like early services, some like late ones. Some want a punctual schedule and structure, some want flexibility and open-mindedness. That doesn’t mean anyone is perfect or any one style is inherently better than the others. All churches and denominations aren’t 100% accurate on everything, and we should bring in the unity of the basic and use the scriptures as a medium to show why there is a split.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

This is important because it gives each person a place and family to attach to. Not everyone is going to want to stay until midnight for a worship service and not everyone wants to feel like they must dress up to attend church. Because of this, each church can be “divided” on how they decide to run the church, but this is to our advantage. Again it is only division if you think about it as such. When to start church service is not critical to whether or not you are a Christian, but it will affect how you will express Christianity. 

In a lot of ways having churches divide and force on different issues helps in many ways. For one it helps challenge people to learn and study more. You will only know as much as your own personal filters and sitting in a group of people who think exactly like you can get stale. All because a teacher has a lot of students that doesn’t mean they are teaching everything right.  That doesn’t mean they are the best teacher, doesn’t mean their style works for everyone. Each person will relate, learn, and express themselves in different environments. 

On a more global level, having different churches focus on different issues can help solve problems. Some churches have soup kitchens and house the homeless. Others focus on teaching and education. Both are important especially if that is the calling of the leaders in the church. That does not mean you should neglect other issues. If anything you should be more united and if someone comes along that you can’t help, you should be able to bring them to someone who can. But they require that you know a community larger than your immediate surrounding.

26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness–look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:26-30 ESV

The Epic List of Foundational Topics

Back to the question posed; what are the basics of Christianity? I decided to take the approach, let the Bible interpret itself, and see what happens. After searching through scripture, I came to a list of verses that seem to clarify this. This does not go over the Implied section; these are things that are directly stated as topics, but what they refer to may be implied. The list is compiled with basic foundational topics in Christianity according to what the Bible says:

1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:5-8 ESV

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.

Hebrews 5:11-14, 6:1-3 ESV

You can find many other verses through the Bible but they all boil down to the basic topics in these verses. Notices the writer of Hebrews considers several things foundational. Often the topics that are listed are the topics that many people argue over nowadays and are considered deep and controversial issues. For instance when talking about the issue of everlasting judgment. Would God send people to hell? Is hell really, it is a temporary place? Or the issue between works and faith. 

Admirably some of the topics given from Hebrew are more implied and they need to be searched elsewhere. Regardless these verses talk about things that are considered foundational and basic for what Christianity is. From these verses these are the list of topics that would be considered foundational (not in any particular order):

  1. Christ died for our sins
  2. Christ was buried for 3 days
  3. He rose from the grave
  4. This all happened according to the scripture
  5. We should understand the concept of repentance from dead works
  6. We should have faith towards God
  7. We should make disciples
  8. There is an everlasting Judgement
  9. Everyone needs to be born again
  10. There are the ideas of Baptism
  11. There is a concept of laying on of hands
  12. There is a resurrection of the dead
  13. Everything Jesus says

The idea, going forward, will be to explore these topics in the Bible. They won’t all be taken individually (or in this order) as some of them go together but each of them is important to understanding Christianity. Keep in mind these are things that are directly stated, not implied so some topics are not covered here like the Trinity; and for good reason. It is a foundational truth but actually going into it as a topic is not something you would normally teach someone right when they become Christian. Instead, these are topics that are sighted as existing. Some are blanket terms and are implied what they mean; but the topics are directly stated. 

Can Christians agree on anything? (Part 1)

Bible verse used in podcast:

  • Isaiah 28:9-10

Why are there different denominations?

Often, many people look at Christianity and when they see all the different denominations they get confused. Often, people look at the different views and say, well then what is true? Why can’t people agree on things?

Of course, this is a broad issue. You can look at this historical context of why denominations are the way they are. This can be several different facts. One can simply be the ability to have the word of God, to begin with. It wasn’t until the printing press that having the ability to own a Bible (or many books) was widely available for the average person. This causes a problem because you had a handful of people who had the text and told the masses what the text said and interpreted it for them. On the other hand, we tend to forget that our modern context comes after standing on the shoulders of many generations of shifting thoughts. We might think about the idea of everyone having equal rights, but that wasn’t always a widespread idea. Yet the Bible expresses how we are all created equal in the image of God. Even though people had the same text we do now, they didn’t always believe that applied to every person. Because of this, we have a lot of different traditions about what to believe about the scriptures. Not all traditions are right, and not all are wrong; regardless we should be looking at what the Bible says first above even the traditions we believe about the Bible.

So now the question comes in, what is the foundation of Christianity? Even though there are many different denominations, why aren’t their things we agree on? As a whole there are but the issue comes when people argue about things that are actually part of the foundations. But it turns out, we need to define what is considered foundational first.

Layers of theology

9 “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast? 10 For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”

Isaiah 28:9-10 ESV

In general, you can look at different topics in the bible in three categories. The first is what would be considered foundational, these are the things that make what Christianity is. They are things that define Christianity. One would argue that if these are not taught or if they are taught differently than you are not talking about Christianity. 

After looking at the foundations, some people would say, these are topics that don’t affect one’s salvation, or whether or not someone goes to heaven and so on. The second category is things that don’t affect whether or not you go to heaven but affect how you express Christianity. Oftentimes this is what people think of when they look at different denominations. The third level is things that do not affect anything or may not change any interpretation.

Primary vs Secondary

Primary issues tend to deal with the core things that make Christianity what it is (which we will define later). At the bare minimum we would think about the core Gospel, what Jesus did, his life, death, resurrection, and all. It would be straightforward to understand that Christians are expected to follow the core teaching of Jesus. If anything contradicts this, then we are not talking about Christianity. These are things that are non-negotiable, if these are not the bases then we are not talking about Christianity. 

On the other hand, what about topics we debate about that don’t inherently contradict the basics? To give an example, what about gifts of the spirit? Of course, a controversial one is healing. It’s no surprise that Jesus did many miracles and we find them throughout the book of Acts. But the question is do they still happen today? And if so how should we interpret this? For instance, some believe that the gifts of the spirit were only for the early church and once the Bible and the Apostle were finished, they were no longer needed. Some believe that we all can perform miracles at will while some believe that God picks and chooses when to make a miracle happen. We don’t address this here, that is for another topic. 

Depending on what you believe it will drastically change how you express Christianity and how you interpret scripture. Regardless if you believe in miracles or not, the Bible never says that you being a Christain is determined by whether or not you can do miracles. Of course, many people don’t realize that even the pharaoh’s magicians who challenged Moses did miracles but we will leave that for personal investigation. The issue of miracles is separate from salvation, for one today that it is necessary doesn’t work because the core of the Gospel (which we will define later) that you use to define what it means to be a Christian doesn’t include this. 

Third level topics

In the third category, few outsides of extreme academic study will ever be affected by these topics. For instance, what is a cubit? When reading through the story of Noah’s ark, looking in Ezekiel 40 to 42 or other passages, you find this measurement. It is normally discussed as being the length of the forearm. The question then is, who’s forearm? Different cultures have their own cubit measurements so what is the length used? Different scholars will debate the details but regardless of what it actually is, not much changes in the Bible, if it’s 5-inch longer or shorter. Many people would never care about this measurement unless they tried to reconstruct pages where these measurements are used. Knowing the actual measurement will probably not greatly enhance your understanding of the Bible in a profound way unless it is an extremely specific situation. On the other hand, if you find out that what you previously believed was wrong, this probably wouldn’t do much to your faith than maybe get you upset and want to debate. But again it doesn’t change the core of the Gospel and you would probably be writing an academic essay on the topic if it was that important that few would read outside of your circle.

Indirect truths

There is another subtle layer as well, not just these three categories. There are some passages where things are directly stated, for instance, the ten commandments or any verse that talks about Jesus being the son of God. These are clear and straightforward. 

There is another layer and those are topics that are implied. Many denominations have doctrines that come about because you see parts of the teaching in different passages. For instance, what is hell like? What is heaven like? Many would argue that this is where the trinity falls under. 

You don’t find a specific passage telling all the details about these types of topics but many see that if you find the details that are there, you can connect the dots. This is an interesting property of the Bible. If everything you needed to know about love was in one place, what would happen if you lose that chapter? The Bible has many of its topics spread out through the whole of scripture. It helps to have multiple books of the Bible as a whole to get a full grasp of a topic. That doesn’t mean you need all the passage to understand something about this topic. For instance, just casually reading the new testament, you can find the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the old testament, you can clearly see the Father and Spirit and some passages that some argue either prophecies or implies about the Son. Yet understanding the Trinity is one that many would debate even to this day on exactly how it works and how to go about explaining and teaching.

Complexity in theology

One can take all the categories and put them side by side with the layers to see what happens:

Directly mentionedImplied
PrimaryDirectly stated, for SalvationImplied for salvation
SecondaryNot for Salvation, but statedNot for salvation, but implied
Other?Directly stated no changesImplied, no changes

Oftentimes some Christians will debate other Christians and put up walls and even say some are not really going to heaven. How do you make that judgment? Is it based on an essential foundation or is it based on secondary topics? Because of this, many people tend to not notice which category they are talking about. The question still remains, what is considered Essentials?

Debating and keeping things civil

The following is stuff I had in my notes but didn’t include in my podcast because of time constraints. If you read this far you get some bonus content.

Of course, there is some reason why different denominations have split is theology. Oftentimes the split isn’t because of basic core values, if it was then they would be a cult. But when looking at the secondary issues many denominations are split specifically because of secondary issues. This is not inherently bad because not everyone knows everything and some people are wrong on some topics, some are right. But it would be arrogant to believe that your denomination (and you) believe everything perfectly correct. This where there is room for differences but these differences need to be discussed in a controlled and healthy medium. Of course, new Christians don’t need to sit through long lectures on the differences between Arminian and Calvinism or whether or not babies should be baptized. But for those who are mature, it can be healthy to expose yourself to new ideas. That doesn’t mean all ideas are right or wrong. But it helps challenge you to study the Bible more to get a better understanding of what you think you know. Also, it helps to expose you to ideas and topics you would have never found, to begin with. With that, there are some things to consider.

There is a difference between arguments and debates. Many people treat them the same as if whoever is yelling the most is more right. First of all, you should be talking about ideas, not people. This might sound obvious but too often people can’t distinguish what they believe from themselves. In terms of Jesus, we are Christians, the spirit lives within us and from there we are one in Christ, but that is your only identity that matters (in the grand scale of things). The reason why is because if Jesus is your identity, it can not change. This goes beyond just debating (there will probably be a post just dedicated to this) but having your identity in Jesus is one of the most important things to understand to find deliverance and freedom. 

You can’t change your race or your gender (keep it simple). People may have stereotypes about you whether good or bad. That can change depending on your environment and if that is your identity, then culture can change the meaning and perception of your identity. If you care about how people perceive you and you want your identity to be an expression of who you are; then you will be disappointed. You can’t please everyone. If your identity is in Christ, no one can change this if we are using the Bible and what God says about you never changes other people’s opinions don’t matter. 

Getting to the point, there are also some things to consider. They are principles that steam from the Bible. 

13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Proverbs 18:13 ESV

This first one is straight forward, we should be open to hearing what someone has to say. That does not mean we have the mindset that they are correct going into things. What it does mean is people should be able to state what they believe and give a statement. Often clarifying what someone means is an important part of the discussion. Two people can’t have a civil conversation without understanding what it is they are saying. Of course, this needs to be pushed a bit more. Oftentimes what a person says is not important, what is important is what they are trying to say. This means you need to put in more effect to try to understand what someone is thinking and get past the actual words they are using. Everyone isn’t great at expressing what they are thinking. After times arguments happen because of misunderstandings, sometimes simply because of wording. 

10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.

Acts 17:10-11 ESV

When you think about this, Paul is the man who we think of as the go-to guy for theology. The book of Thessalonians is full of a lot of topics that Paul was teaching them. Yet here we find that the Bereans had a more noble quality. The reason is that they actually fact-checked Paul. Even if what someone says is correct, you should still make sure it fits in with the whole of scripture. You should believe in something because someone told you. You should believe it because you are convinced it’s right.