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Since childhood, all that one most probably hears about is that one is either supposed to do good things, please God and go to heaven; or do wrong things, annoy Him and go to hell. This is primarily the Christian perspective, and it is the foundation of all Christian teaching. But growing older, one becomes stronger in religion and begins to be able to visualize a bigger picture, and they also begin deciding what is right or wrong for them. Associating with pastors, deacons, elders, and reading the Bible, one’s resolve that those are the ideals of ideal states that they believe in. however, a believer still finds some blanks that need to be filled. First, they have to wonder what happens or where they go after they die. Second, they have to wonder, ‘what is the nature of this promised heaven’. Third, out of fear and confusion, they also wonder about the nature of hell. It is the answers to these questions that many depend on in order to make informed choices on which religion to subscribe to, and which end-of-time theory to believe in. in this paper, the concept of eternal punishment is discussed in detail.
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In 2 Corinthians 5: 10, the Bible states that, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” In this context, the Bible seeks to inform Christians that in the end, if one has been doing deeds that are not pleasing to the Lord, there will be eternal punishment for them. It gives the people the liberty to determine what their fate will be according to how they act in the body. In order to understand hell, it is important to first create a clear understanding of punishment. In this particular context, punishment would imply some pain that is justly inflicted on an individual as a consequence of an evil they have committed. Punishment can be purely medicinal if the main idea is to bring the wrong-doer to repent and undo their evils. From another perspective, it is purely avenging / or retributive if it aims at vindicating or restoring the glory and honor of an individual that has been offended by an evil deed, and as a means of restoring the balance of justice through putting the evil-doer through pain because of their evil.
The punishments that people are subjected to on earth are supposed to be of mixed purposes- some should be curative while others should retributive. But the kind of punishment in hell is purposely retributive, without any medicinal purposes for the victim, although it can also serve a preventive purpose by deterring and scaring potential wrong-doers. The essence of the retributive justice through eternal punishment is admissible to every rationally reasonable being. If evil misdeeds did not have any form of repercussions for the offender and their crimes go unpunished, it could mean that the evil would prosper as the righteous succumbed. This would send irresistible convictions in many souls that there is something utterly wrong in the structure of the universe. People therefore agree that for such wrongs, they have to end by finding justice for all.
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This is a profound conviction that is premised on the idea that sins have to correlate with suffering. To maintain the balance of justice, every form of sin committed should correspond to a punishment. According to the same doctrine, repentance gives forgiveness, whereby repentance is the will to make satisfaction. Yet this satisfaction is the punishment in which the sinner voluntarily bears to cover for his sins, so that God does not again inflict the pain that has already been endured. Again, to maintain the order of the universe, a sinner’s will must be thwarted and contravened out of necessity, in the equal manner as he had also contravened the world order established by God. The will is thwarted by sorrow, and if this is done as a consequence of sin, then this sorrow is the due punishment.
Connection of Eternal Punishment to Sin
Punishment in itself must follow sin like a shadow. It is a reward for sin that is demanded by an intrinsic necessity to create a balance of righteousness. Retributive justice seeks to maintain order. In the case of divine punishments, it is called retributive or avenging punishment because God is a personal God, through whose personal will the order of the universe is maintained. By sinning, an individual is breaking the objective order of the universe that he lives, and he is also acting offensively towards God who created him and everything in the universe. This in itself is depriving God the pleasure and honor due to him- through the kind of obedience that He expects from the people and his creations as gratitude for their existence.
However, in the consideration of a retributive and an avenging God, it is important to have it clear in the mind that God does not at all derive any form of pleasure, desire or thirst seeing people suffering. He does not desire or thirst for anything from humans. In the same way, there is not any given sin that can be committed by a human being of whatever magnitude that is capable of reducing God’s happiness. Neither can any individual sinner hurt God’s feelings like men are injured on earth by the bad acts of others. God’s eternal punishment cannot therefore be perceived as paying the sinner back the hurt that sinners could have caused God. The only possible explanation of eternal punishment is God must be seeking His own infinite holiness and keeping off any form of blemish. It is also the permanent separation of the sinner from God. Sinners are individuals that chose to continually reject God and His ways. He then allows creatures to torment such souls because they chose their own ways and turned to creatures instead of to Him. This eternal punishment becomes everlasting because the sinners choose to stick by their choices preferring their created gods to God without the possibility of changing their minds, and not at all because God rejoices in the sight of a suffering sinner. The individual then has to be eternally punished because he is in an eternal state of sin.
To disentangle oneself from the everlasting punishment, the scriptures offer a chance of repentance where one can denounce their wicked ways and turn to God and get saved. In contrast to those that are saved, the adamant are known as the ‘lost.’ There is still no precise or technical explanation that befits their real state other than the fact that they are just lost. Metaphorically speaking, when God created humans, he sent them out on a journey, one in which people were supposed to lead themselves to him and end in a ceremonious home-coming. This perceived home was at the abode of God, to be his complete possession, and the closest embrace by the will of God. But for the damned evil-doers, the journey will never terminate. They will have earned themselves eternal suffering, pain, and restlessness without progress. They will end up becoming aimless wonderers who will never make it towards God. They will never enter the holy homes that Christ went to prepare for the saved, and those who chose to abide by the teachings of the scriptures.
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In conclusion, it is clear from the above that eternal suffering will be real. It is also clear that the pain of loss will be the ultimate punishment in hell, and it will be far much worse than the pain of sense. In the recent past however, torments of hell have struck and scared the imaginations of men. The Lord has also been speaking through hell-fire, which is a direct stress on eternal punishment. In His own knowledge of human nature, He understands that a sensible imagination would be the most effective incentive to a horrific and terrible fate that would await unrepentant sinners.
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- Moskala, Jiří. “Eternal Punishment in Hell and the Immorality of the Soul”. Perspectivedigest.Org. Last modified 2017.