Torment or Annihilation? Examining the fate of the wicked

Today we're going to talk about a topic that is rather uncomfortable, but is very much a big part of the Gospel. Today we're going to talk about hell. While the Gospel is the Good News, there is Bad News that goes along with it, which is that the wicked, those who don't not accept Christ and repent of sin, will be going to hell, to suffer torment for all eternity.

You would think that this is an accepted doctrine in all of Christianity, since it's what you hear so much. However, it turns out that there is another view held by certain groups of Christians known as annihilationism. This view teaches that the wicked do not suffer eternal torment, but are instead annihilated, ceasing to exist. Is there any truth to this alternate view? Well, let's search the scriptures to find out.

There are a couple of verses in the Old Testament that suggest that the wicked suffer eternal torment. First is Isaiah 66:24. "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh."

We also have Daniel 12:2, which reads as follows:

"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

Now, in the New Testament, Jesus has a lot to say about hell. Let's start with Matthew 18:8.

"Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire."

An argument from annihilationists that I've heard in response is that the passages only refer to the finality of judgment and not its duration. That eternal simply means an indefinite, but not unending time. But I think there's two more verses that are clear proof for eternal torment, that cannot be reconciled in an annihilationist worldview. Let's take a look at Revelation 14:9-11
And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Finally, probably the strongest proof, is Revelation 20:10, and 14-15.

"10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
I would think that if the devil, beast, and false prophet are tormented forever in the lake of fire, then anyone else who is cast in there would suffer the same fate. I just don't see a way around that without resorting to arguments from silence. 
Therefore, my conclusion is that the wicked suffer eternal torment in hell, which is known as the traditional view. After searching the scriptures, I just can't see any other way. But by all means if you are an annihilationist, and think I'm mistaken and that I didn't address certain things, then feel free to tell me, and I will address that issue in another blog. God bless, everyone! 


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