Saturday, March 4, 2017

What is the Second Death, Part 7: Hallowed

In the first six parts of this blog series I have shared why I believe “the second death” means this: 

“Second death” means to die a second time, where this dying involves the complete destruction of both body and soul.

This definition is consistent with the doctrine of annihilationism, which is itself a part of the doctrine of conditional immortality.

In this seventh and final post of the series, I want to share my heart about why I believe this topic is important.  When we help our brothers and sisters in Christ to Biblically “rethink hell”, we are serving as an answer to the Lord’s Prayer.

The First Request of the Lord’s Prayer and What It Means

The first request in the Lord’s Prayer is:

“hallowed be Your Name”

My guess is that most Christians would struggle to explain what “hallowed be Your Name” means.  This is largely a linguistic and translation problem.  So, before I share how I see the doctrine of conditional immortality as an answer to this prayer, I need to attempt to explain the meaning of “hallowed be Your Name”.  I attempt to do this in two short video clips (a total of seven minutes).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Here is the conclusion from the two videos above:

I don’t want people to replace “hallowed be Your Name” with my attempt at a more understandable English paraphrase, but I do hope you will take time to think about the meaning when you repeat the Lord’s Prayer (John Piper has some excellent material on this here and here).

Jesus puts the request for God to cause us to realize that He is entirely separate from evil first in the Lord’s Prayer.  This is because it is so important.  There is nothing more important about us than what we believe about God.  If we doubt that God is entirely good, that doubt will eat away at our faith in Him.  We cannot completely love, trust, and obey God the way we are meant to if we think He is flawed.

The simple prayer “hallowed be Your Name” has massive implications and broad applications.  One of the many applications of this prayer is related to the meaning of “the second death” and the doctrine of conditional immortality.

The Rethinking Hell Movement as Part of God’s Answer to Our Prayer, “Hallowed be Your Name”

When I refer to “the rethinking hell movement”, I am referring both to the specific group of believers who are connected to and supportive of the specific group Rethinking Hell, with its website, social media pages, books, and conferences, and also more broadly to all believers in Jesus Christ who have come to understand that the traditional belief in eternal conscious torment is unbiblical and have instead come to embrace conditional immortality and annihilationism.  I believe that our work in promoting the Biblical teaching of conditional immortality is a small, yet important and valuable, part of God’s answer to every Christian’s prayer, “hallowed be Your Name”.

This is because the belief that God would keep the unsaved alive forever for the purpose of torturing them is a terrible blemish on God’s Name.  It makes Him look more like an immoral monster than either a Righteous Judge or a Loving Savior.

The erroneous belief that the Bible teaches eternal torment has caused many to stumble.  They rightly are repulsed by the thought that a good God would torture people for more than a hundred trillion years (far more, forever) for sins committed in one short life time. Tragically, many people repulsed by eternal torment do not find the truth that we have found,  Instead of finding the truth about conditional immortality, some people who reject eternal torment wander into various errors, some even embracing atheism.

By teaching the truth about annihilationism you are helping people to understand more accurately, and feel more deeply, the truth that God is entirely good.  Through your work, more people will see more clearly that God is truly holy – there is no darkness in Him at all (1 John 1:5).  Also, you will remove a stumbling block which has contributed to many falling into the trap of atheism or other sub-Biblical beliefs.

In addition to removing a stumbling block to faith, we will also help those who are already believers. The Christians we influence will more easily be able to worship, trust, and obey our wonderful God. John’s visions in Revelation are full of worship.  We worship God for His great power seen in creation.  We worship God for His great love seen in redemption.  But, we should also worship God for His great justice seen in His judgments.  By praying and serving and working to explain the Biblical evidence for conditional immortality, we help people to worship God more fully.  Like the saints in John’s vision, our hearts will be free to worship Him for His just judgments (see Revelation 15:3 and Revelation 19:1-2).

So, I pray that God will help us to work with humble zeal and gentle boldness and perseverance to correct a traditional belief that for far too long has blemished God’s good Name. I pray that as we seek to spread His truth that we will also be diligent to guard unity in the Body of Christ.  The people we disagree with are not our enemies, they are God’s children, our brothers and sisters.  And I pray that God will graciously use our efforts to answer one of the greatest prayer requests in the universe:

. . . hallowed be Your Name.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment