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Was this Jehovah’s Witness right about hell?

Full Question

A Jehovah’s Witness I know told me that Jehovah God would not burn his enemies in hell forever and ever, because it wouldn’t “fit the crime” of sin.

Answer

First of all, Scripture describes hell as fire in order to convey something of the intensity of suffering that it entails. Actually, it’s worse than fire. God doesn’t send people to hell; they themselves choose to go there by turning their backs on God. Hell is to spend eternity without God. Only by knowing how unspeakably good heaven is can one know how unspeakably evil its absence is. When we sin mortally, we act as God’s enemies. But when we repent, he forgives us. He spent three hours on the cross that we might spend eternity with him. But we can still reject him. If we do so, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

For the Son of God to suffer such an agonizing death should convey something of the extreme severity of offense that sin is before God’s infinite goodness. The punishment does indeed fit the crime.











19 comments

  1. Jim King Reply

    Hellfire—Is It Part of Divine Justice?

    Have you ever seen someone tortured? I hope not. Deliberate torture is sickening and abhorrent. What, though, of torture inflicted by God? Can you imagine such a thing? Yet, this is exactly what is implied by the teaching of hellfire, an official doctrine in many religions.

    Imagine, for a moment, the following scene: A person is being roasted on a hot iron plate. In his agony he screams for mercy, but nobody listens. The torture goes on and on, hour after hour, day after day—without pause!

    Whatever crime the victim may have committed, would not your heart go out to him? What of the one who ordered the torture? Could he be a loving person? Love is merciful and shows pity. A loving father may punish his children, but he would never torture them!

    Nevertheless, many religions teach that God tortures sinners in an eternal hellfire. This, it is claimed, is divine justice. If that is true, who created that terrible place of eternal torment? And who is responsible for the excruciating agonies inflicted there? The answers would seem obvious. If such a place really exists, then God would have to be the creator of it, and he would be responsible for what happens there.

    Can you accept that? The Bible* says: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) Would a God of love inflict torture that even humans with any measure of decency find revolting? Surely not!

    Still, many believe that the wicked will go to a fiery hell and be tormented forever. Is this teaching logical? The human life span is limited to 70 or 80 years. Even if someone perpetrated extreme wickedness for his whole lifetime, would everlasting torment be a just punishment? No. It would be grossly unjust to torment a man forever for the limited number of sins that he can commit in a lifetime.

    Who knows the truth about what happens after we die? Only God can reveal this information, and he HAS DONE SO in his written Word, the Bible. Here is what the Bible says: >>“As the [beast] dies, so the [man] dies; and they all have but one spirit . . . All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20)<< There is no mention of a fiery hell. Humans return to dust—to nonexistence—when they die.

    In order to be tormented, an individual has to be conscious. Are the dead conscious? No. “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) It is impossible for the dead, “conscious of nothing at all,” to experience the agonies of hellfire.

    Some maintain that the teaching of hellfire is useful, true or not. Why? They say it serves as a deterrent to wrongdoing. Is that true? Well, is the crime rate in regions where people believe in hellfire lower than in other places? Hardly! In fact, the doctrine of hellfire is very harmful. Will a person who believes that God torments people view torture as something abhorrent? Why should he? Those who believe in a cruel god often become just as cruel as they believe their god to be.

    In whatever way a reasonable person may look at the matter, he cannot accept the existence of a hell of torment. Logic rebels against it. Human nature is repelled by it. More important, God’s Word does not say that such a place exists. When a person dies, “he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:4.

    What IS the Punishment for Sin?

    Does that mean that we are not punished for our sins? No, that is not the case. Our holy God punishes sinners, but he DOES NOT torture them. And when sinners repent, he forgives them. What is the punishment for sin? The Bible gives a forthright answer: “The wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23) Life is a gift from God. When we sin we no longer deserve that gift, and we die.

    You may ask: ‘How is that just? Why, everyone dies!’ That is true because we are all sinners. In effect, no one deserves life. “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.

    At this point you may be thinking: ‘If we all sin and so we all die, why should we try to be virtuous? It seems that the wicked man is treated exactly the same as the man who tries to serve God.’ But that is not the case. Although we are all sinners, God forgives those who sincerely repent and try to change their ways. He rewards our efforts to ‘make our minds over’ and to do good. (Romans 12:2) These truths are the basis of a marvelous hope.

    We cease to exist when we die. But that does not mean that everything is finished. The faithful man Job knew that he would go to the grave (Sheol) when he died. But listen to his prayer to God: “O that in Sheol you would conceal me, that you would keep me secret until your anger turns back, that you would set a time limit for me and remember me! If an able-bodied man dies can he live again? . . . You will call, and I myself shall answer you.”—Job 14:13-15.

    Job believed that if he was faithful until death, he would be remembered by God and resurrected. This was the belief of all of God’s servants in ancient times. Jesus himself confirmed this hope when he said: “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28, 29.

    When will the resurrection begin? According to the Bible, very soon. Bible prophecy indicates that in 1914 this world entered into its “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) In what many call ‘the end of the world,’ God will very shortly remove wickedness and establish a new world under heavenly rulership.—Matthew, chapter 24; Mark, chapter 13; Luke, chapter 21; Revelation 16:14.

    The result will be a paradise covering the whole earth and inhabited by those who have sincerely tried to serve God. Wicked people will not burn in hellfire, but they will NOT have a place in the coming Paradise. At Psalm 37:10, 11, we read: “The wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”

    Is all of this just a dream? No, it is God’s promise. In the Bible we read: “I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.’”—Revelation 21:3, 4.

  2. Truthseeker Reply

    Funny, not one Scripture to back up this reply… probably because the response is not at all supported by the Bible. In order for people to “burn in hell” for eternity, they would have to be kept alive would they not? And yet the Bible clearly says that death is the ultimate punishment for sin.

  3. clendon Reply

    a live doge is better off than a dead lion,for the living are conscious that the will die bu
    t as for the dead ,they know nothing at all

  4. Wayne Reply

    New King James Version Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[d]
    d. Revelation 20:14 NU-Text and M-Text add, the lake of fire.

    In these verse we see Hades, which is supposed to be hell, being thrown into the lake of fire, also supposedly hell. From Wikipedia. “The term “Hades” in Christian theology (and in New Testament Greek) is parallel to Hebrew sheol (שאול, “grave, dirt-pit”), and refers to the abode of the dead.”

    So what is the “lake of fire”? Verse 14 tells us clearly. It is “the second death.

    Put simply. We are born in sin. With no way out, we die. Having believed in Jesus we receive a resurrection. John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” If we still choose to sin after our first death and resurrection, we will die a second death from which there is no resurrection and which is the symbolic “lake of fire”. The second death.

  5. Dan Reply

    The doctrine of hell is so frightening that numerous heretical sects end up denying the reality of an eternal hell. The Unitarian-Universalists, the Seventh-day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christadelphians, the Christian Scientists, the Religious Scientists, the New Agers, and the Mormons—all have rejected or modified the doctrine of hell so radically that it is no longer a serious threat. In recent decades, this decay has even invaded mainstream Evangelicalism, and a number of major Evangelical figures have advocated the view that there is no eternal hell—the wicked will simply be annihilated.

    But the eternal nature of hell is stressed in the New Testament. For example, in Mark 9:47–48 Jesus warns us, “[I]t is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” And in Revelation 14:11, we read: “And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever 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.”

    Hell is not just a theoretical possibility. Jesus warns us that real people go there. He says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:13–14).

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1035).

    In his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Pope John Paul II wrote that too often “preachers, catechists, teachers . . . no longer have the courage to preach the threat of hell” (p. 183).

    Concerning the reality of hell, the pope says, “In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory . . . according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction, and every creature would be saved; a theory which abolished hell. . . . [T]he words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel he speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Matt. 25:46). [But] who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement in this regard” (pp. 185–6).

    Thus the issue that some will go to hell is decided, but the issue of who in particular will go to hell is undecided.

  6. Rita Raeburn Reply

    There is no hell the catholics believe I hell.jesus doesnt.and hell is on earth.

  7. Theophilus Reply

    to be carnally minded is death Russell the founder of Jehovah witness was never born again, no sanctification, justification or Holy Ghost baptism, so also all their members. Their Bible was translated by the same set of carnal men, so how can they understand spiritual things. Ask any of the them if he or she is born again or baptized by the Holy Spirit and you will be amazed at the answer you will get, My family happened to be caught in their web but I believe that the God that delivered me will also deliver them in Jesus Amen

    1. Wayne Reply

      One of the criminals who died alongside Jesus said: “Remember me when you get into your Kingdom.” What was Jesus’ reply? “Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in Paradise.”—Luke 23:39-43.
      Was Jesus promising that the man would enter into heaven? No. The man had not been “born again” from water and spirit, which was a prerequisite for entering the Kingdom of the heavens. (John 3:3-6) Rather, Jesus was promising that the criminal would live again, in Paradise. Being a Jew, the man was likely familiar with the earthly Paradise—the garden of Eden—described in the first book of the Bible. (Genesis 2:8) Jesus’ promise gave him the assured hope of a resurrection to Paradise when it is re established on earth.
      In fact, the Bible promises “a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) “The unrighteous” are those who did not meet God’s righteous standards because they were ignorant of God’s will. Jesus will resurrect the unrighteous criminal who spoke with him, as well as millions, perhaps billions, of others who died in ignorance. Then, in the Paradise earth, they will be taught God’s requirements, and they will have the opportunity to prove that they love God by obeying his commandments.

  8. Ebenezer Obez Reply

    I beg any body who is reading my reply, please, do not wait till you get to eternity before you read the story of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke16. Heaven and hell are eternal. The man on the cross with Jesus knew that life did not end at death, that is why he beg Jesus to remember him in paradise. Please, give your life to Jesus today. Thank you.

  9. Scott Reply

    Luckily for all of us the horrors of hell are not real and neither is the equally abhorrent god of the bible / Koran. Rejoice you peoples because you are free to live without an eternal Kim Jong looking over your shoulder!

  10. Susan goss Reply

    Answer to later part of article…Jesus said “forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”, so in forgiveness of them torturing his son the Father sends them to hell! In answer to one comment Mr. Obez made about Lazarus, it was a Parable about the religious leaders.

  11. Cathy Reply

    Study Gods Bible with Jehovah witness..they have all the correct answers..they tell you the correct answers backed up by the Bible
    I have checked out most religions in my 62 years..from the moment I spoke to them I heard the answers to my questions
    Now I’m not afraid to die..We are not going to heaven..we are not going to hell..relax..do what is right and you will come back here..to planet Earth..like it was meant to be before Adam messed it up..Eve too..but Adam especially..I don’t know who will come back..but Adam and Judas won’t be..ever!
    Jehoval God is a loving God..do you really think he would let us suffer?..No..the suffering we do on Earth is Satans fault..he runs this world right now…but not for too much longer..Then we will have a wonderful world to live on..
    Check answers to your questions at http://www.J.W.org ..great site…I’m studying on weekends and I have never understood the Bible till now
    if your up to it..lol.take a look..read..think on it and i know you will finally have your eyes opened to the truth..not politely crap..or what we were brought up to believe..The Bible is the only way we can get to know God and what he wants for us..

    1. Kody Reply

      Kathy. Trust me the jehovahs witnesses are a cult. I grew up in it. They are veey two faced and not so caring and loving as they make themselves up to be. Many families have been destroyed by there practice of shunning. Please do some research on their organisation before you join them. For your sake please. They are masters of deception and brainwashing. Please im trying to save you from serious heart ache and distress. Look up the B. I. T. E. Model definition of what a cult is. These people will get you to turn your back against anyone not a jehovahs witness including relatives. Spouses siblings etc…

      1. Norman Brooks Reply

        Sorry…you are wrong.

  12. Ula Staley Reply

    It still implies that God made the so called Hell…scriptures are plain to read.. if one puts the effort into it.. However, Jesus said if you an I CHOOSE to walk with a blind person.. both will fall into a pit…

  13. Mary Reply

    Just what would burn in hell? Gen. 2:7 says that God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he came to be a living soul. He was not given a soul but became one. Gen. 3:19 says from dust you are and to dust you will return. How can you burn dust? Ez. 18:4 says all souls die. They are not immortal. Ec. 9:4,5,10,11 says that when you die you know nothing, can do nothing and have no memory. People believe the “the lake of fire” is real. But it just means total destruction. Rev. 20:14 says death and hades are hurled into the lake of fire. How can you hurl death and hades anywhere? Ro. 6: 7, 23 says that the wages sin pays is death and those who have died have been acquitted of their sins. Why would God then punish you again for sins you already paid for. Hellfire is a false doctrine.

    1. Jim Reply

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Simple enough for anyone that can read to understand. Very explicit and straight forward. The only thing I can figure is that some persons are so vested in in the pagan Hellfire doctrine that their mind just REFUSES to see and accept the truth in the Bible.

  14. Claude J Kenneson Reply

    Strange that the Watchtowerites tell us that a loving God doesn’t punish non repentant sinners eternally in hell and then turn right around to tell us us that He punishes them with destruction in the Battle of Armageddon, with the eternal consequence of non existence. If a loving God will not punish anyone for an eternity, how does He do even if only once with an eternal consequence?

  15. Michael Reply

    The Bible’s answer
    Some Bible translations use the word “hell” for the Hebrew word “Sheol” and the matching Greek word “Hades,” both of which refer to the common grave of mankind. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27) Many people believe in a fiery hell, as shown in the religious artwork accompanying this article. However, the Bible teaches otherwise.

    Those in hell are unconscious and so cannot feel pain. “There is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol.”—Ecclesiastes 9:10.
    Good people go to hell. The faithful men Jacob and Job expected to go there.—Genesis 37:35; Job 14:13.
    Death, not torment in a fiery hell, is the penalty for sin. “He who has died has been acquitted from his sin.”—Romans 6:7.
    Eternal torment would violate God’s justice. (Deuteronomy 32:4) When the first man, Adam, sinned, God told him that his punishment would simply be to pass out of existence: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) God would have been lying if he were actually sending Adam to a fiery hell.
    God does not even contemplate eternal torment. The idea that he would punish people in hellfire is contrary to the Bible’s teaching that “God is love.”—1 John 4:8; Jeremiah 7:31.

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