Hope in Death (Listen or Read)
Hope Beyond Death
Is one’s state after death absolutely final as we have been led to think? Tradition maintains that God’s judgment has no remedial purpose—it is an eternal death. Yet the phrase, “eternal death,” is nowhere to be found in Scripture!
What mysteriously happens at death making it impossible for God to bring someone to repentance? Has He been stripped of His power? Where does Scripture declare His impotence in the face of death? Many quote Hebrews 9:27 thinking it bars all hope. “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (He. 9:27). How does this passage address the issue? The point in question is not the fact of judgment, but whether or not it is infinite. This reference does not offer us any information.
Does judgment have a remedial or restorative element to it, or is it solely retributive? What is the evidence? A number of passages have led me to conclude it cannot be solely retributive. We will see these later under “Examples of Purpose-Driven Judgment.” However, I would first like to demonstrate Scriptural support for my conviction that death in and of itself is not a hopeless condition for anyone.
Texts that Testify
¨ I kill and make alive; I wound and heal (De. 32:39).
¨ The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave [Sheol] and brings up (1Sa. 2:6). Sheol is translated “hell” thirty – one times in the KJV! He brings down to Sheol and brings up. How can one be brought up from what is supposed to be an irremediable state?
¨ We must die. But God does not take away life; instead, He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him (2 Sa 14:14 NIV). Nothing stops God!
¨ God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol (Ps. 49:15 NAS). (See also: Ps. 30:2-3; 86:13; 116:3-8; Hos. 13:14). One is not left in Sheol forever.
¨ All who go down to the dust shall bow before Him… (Ps. 22:29b). “All” who die will bow. Can what is annihilated bow? Bowing stems from a genuine and not a “forced” worship as discussed in Chapter 6.
¨ He will swallow up death forever and will wipe away tears from all faces (Is. 25:8). Death is swallowed up with tears wiped from all faces. Note the word “all.”
¨ For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love (Lam 3:31-32 NIV). “For men” refers to all people. Death is no barrier to a God whose love cannot fail.
¨ When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them (Ez. 16:53; read entire chapter). God restores the destroyed of Sodom and Samaria. (See also Jer. 49:6, 37-39; 2Pe. 2:6).
¨ I will ransom them from the power of the grave [Sheol]; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave [Sheol], I will be your destruction (Hos. 13:14)! God ransoms from the power of hell, redeems from death, and is death’s destruction! Only if we do not believe God is all-powerful, impartial, and all-loving can we remain hopeless.
¨ God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones (Mt. 3:9). If God can do this, can He not raise the lost from death? Is this too hard for Him (Jer. 32:27)?
¨ You will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny (Mt. 5:26).
¨ His master delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all. So My Father also will do to you (Mt. 18:34-5). Does “till” and “until” support the concept of an unending hell?
¨ Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not.…either in this age or in the age to come (Mt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:29-30). This is saying that every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven in the age to come except this sin. If not, what is the point of singling out one sin in particular as an exception? This is powerful testimony from the lips of Christ Himself for hope after death! Because a particular sin will not be forgiven at a given time does not require that the penalty be infinite. Also, God’s justice in judgment does not change! (Mal. 3:6). All judgment is measured and with a purpose. Either a just penalty will be exacted (He. 2:2), or its forgiveness must await a subsequent age. (Scripture alludes to “ages to come”- Ep. 2:7). We can rest assured that the Father’s chastising penalty for this sin will be just, and righteous, and in character with His loving heart for all. See #11 Appendix V and “Mystery to Ponder” (chapter 4).
References: See Bibliography page.