The Annihilation Question
There are several beliefs concerning the eternal fate of the lost. One is the thought of "annihilation." Here are quotes from four articles that are posted on our website that will hopefully shed some light:
"Nothing is more certain than the fact that Jesus Christ has already ridden, or shall yet ride, into the world of each of us in FLAMING FIRE! Because of the gross misunderstanding of almost all people concerning the fire of God, I would draw your reverent attention to the natural process of fire. In the book of Revelation we have the horse of flaming fire; but later on the Holy Spirit also describes the manifestation of God as fire under another remarkable symbol. 'But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the LAKE WHICH BURNETH WITH FIRE AND BRIMSTONE…' (Rev. 21:8). The word “burn” means combustion, or to consume. To consume does not mean to annihilate, for there is no such thing as annihilation. You can annihilate a form, but not a substance."
"He spoke often of the consequences of sin, but never suggested there was a place wherein the sinner would go to never return, and neither did he ever say they would be annihilated completely from existence. He said that certain sinners would not 'inherit' the Kingdom of God, but he did not say they would never enter 'into' His Kingdom as citizens. If either thought, eternal damnation or annihilation, was a part of God's counsel and the foundation of His truth to the Church, it is odd that they never surfaced in Paul's or any of the other foundational teachings in the Bible. (A few scriptures can be misconstrued as referring to annihilation, that once a person dies he is dead forever, but such thoughts do not have the substantial foundation to stand in the presence of truth. Nevertheless, many are dancing to that hopeless tune.)
Religious tradition very often has the LAST ENEMY to be destroyed, or separated eternally from God, as the LAST SINNER; but in I Corinthians 15:26 Paul states clearly that the last enemy to be destroyed is DEATH. No reference whatsoever is made to the annihilation of sinners. In the above verses (54 & 55) he goes on to say how both, death and the grave, are swallowed up in victory. Elementary understanding tells us that the victory over DEATH comes only by making ALIVE; and the GRAVE can only be destroyed by man's RESURRECTION. If one soul is left dead or in the grave, regardless of what or where either may be, victory is foreign to Christ, and death has not been destroyed.
"It is so aptly recorded in Nahum 1:5, 'The mountains quake at Him, and hills melt, and the earth IS BURNED AT HIS PRESENCE, yea the world, and ALL that dwell therein.' Do we suppose God just got tired of dealing with His rebellious creation, and at this point decided there was no use working with them any longer, and He was ready to annihilate the whole lump? Not at all. He is severe, but remedial. 'Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for ALL THE EARTH SHALL BE DEVOURED WITH THE FIRE OF MY JEALOUSY (but not forever). For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent' (Zeph. 3:8-9)."
"The prophet was relating how all the nations and kingdoms, those of the entire earth, will be drawn together and devoured (eaten, Heb.) with fire. One might think that to devour or consume something either by eating or burning would totally destroy it, leaving nothing, not even a molecule. However, even in the world of science, we learned that nothing can be absolutely destroyed. We know that the appearance can be altered, that its molecular structure can be changed, the electrons and protons of its atomic makeup can be separated (fission) or joined (fusion). Things coming in contact with the energy released by those two actions will be dissolved, vaporized, and perhaps disappear from sight; but their elements still remain. They merely took on a different state of existence. A less intense form of dissolving can be seen with a cube of sugar being dropped into a hot cup of water as it is being stirred. It won't be long until the sugar is dissolved. Its form is destroyed as it disappears totally from view, but not from taste, and this is because it still remains. It has not been annihilated, brought to nothing, taken out of existence. The sugar cube has simply been changed. It has been dissolved, that is, loosed from its former shape and texture to take on another shape and texture, sweet water, and by tasting that the water is sweet is testimony enough to know that the sugar was not utterly destroyed.
"Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be *dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 2 Peter 3:11-12.
[*dissolved: Greek: lu, to 'loosen' (literally or figuratively). KJV translates the word as: break (up), destroy, dissolve, (un-) loose, melt, put off. (Strong's Exh. Conc.)]
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