Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
(Philippians 3:17-19 ESV)
Paul has urged us to imitate people such as himself who “walk” with God. Sadly, there are “many” who “walk as enemies of Christ”. These people should not be imitated because they were headed for “destruction”. The Greek word for destruction (απολεια, pronounced: ap-o’-li-a) does not mean ceasing to exist. It means “to perish or to come to ruin”.
There are many who believe that some people will go to heaven and the rest God will simply annihilate. This theory is known as “Annihilationism”. The Bible does not teach this at all.
God created everyone to live forever. We are all eternal creatures. Our bodies will die someday. But we are not our bodies. We are spirits who dwell temporarily in these bodies. After these bodies die we will continue to live. In fact, after death we will each be placed in another body. This one will be indestructible. It will never die [1 Corinthians 15:42,44].
When Jesus rose from the grave He did so in bodily form [Luke 24:39]. It is in this body that He ascended into heaven 40 days after His resurrection [Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9]. God tells us that Jesus’ resurrection was the first of many like it [1 Corinthians 15:20]. Everyone else who dies will one day live again in a new body just like Jesus.
Annihilationism is appealing to those who reject Jesus because it eliminates the concept of personal accountability. Ascribing to this theory allows one to live as they wish on earth since they think that they will face no punishment other than ceasing to exist which, in theory, would be painless and momentary.
This is also an appealing theory for those who have a problem with people being eternally tormented in hell. They claim that a loving God would never torment people. They are right about that. But they are wrong about the source of eternal torment.
We have to remember that by definition hell is eternal separation from God. God is not present in hell nor will He have any interaction with it. Hell is a place in which only human beings who want nothing to do with God live.
But since God is not there, the torment that people will experience cannot come from Him. So where does it come from? It comes from themselves as the people in hell eternally regret the decision they made on earth [Matthew 8:20 et. al].
Human beings are depraved. All the wars, mass shootings, greed, rapes, murders that happen on this planet happen because of human nature. All these types of incidents are a foretaste of what hell will be like when human nature is completely unleashed.
The increase we see of violence in our world is a direct result of eliminating God from our culture. The more we remove Him, the more wickedness we experience.
Hell is the ultimate removal of God. And as such, the things that go on there will cause those who exist there to forever yearn for the good ol’ days on earth.
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