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Tim Barnett and Greg Koukl explain why the most natural reading of the full corpus of Scripture on Hell supports the church’s historical position of eternal conscious torment and not nonexistence.
Conditionalists—those who hold to the annihilation of the wicked at the judgment—insist that Jesus’ and John’s descriptions be interpreted in light of other passages, texts they think give an entirely different picture. Fair enough. We’ll take a look at their arguments.
In recent years, opposition to the doctrine of endless punishment by those who are rethinking Hell has gained enough popular momentum that “conditional immortality”—also known as “annihilationism”—has begun to make significant inroads into mainstream Christianity. This trend must be answered and that's what Tim and Greg do in part one of this Solid Ground.
Most of us have answered a knock on our door, only to discover a smiling, well-dressed couple—Watchtower publication in hand—standing on the other side, waiting to talk with us about the gospel according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Does the New Testament teach us to worship Jesus? Absolutely. We can find multiple instances throughout the New Testament of various people worshipping Jesus. So, how is it that Jehovah’s Witnesses can claim that Jesus was never worshipped?
Christians and Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Jehovah’s Witness takes the resurrection of Jesus to be non-physical. Jesus’ physical body did not rise; He only rose as a spirit being. Conversely, Christians hold that Jesus rose physically from the dead. Moreover, the same body that died on the cross is the same body that rose three days later, leaving an empty tomb.
Scripture is clear that Jesus is the eternal, uncreated One. When Christians try to argue for the deity of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses are quick to bring up Colossians 1:15. Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). The modern English translations and the New World Translation agree on the translation of the text. However, the Christian and Jehovah’s Witness differ with their interpretation of the text.
Jehovah’s Witnesses adamantly deny that the Holy Spirit is God. Instead, they assert that it is simply God’s power in action; it is His active, impersonal force. However, there are numerous passages that testify to the deity and personhood of the Holy Spirit.
The doctrine of purgatory places an emphasis on our own merits to attain righteousness. It is a very dangerous thing to add to the finished work of Christ, but this is precisely what millions of people do when they accept the doctrine of purgatory. Purgatory is the belief that there is an intermediate state after physical death where people undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. However, to hold to this doctrine you must deny the power of the cross, and distort the gospel.
If faith in Jesus is the only means by which we can be saved, how can God judge the person who has never heard about Jesus? This common challenge appears to strike at the heart of God’s divine justice.