The Fire of God’s Mercy

12 Nov


(1 Corinthians 3:15 MLV):  “If the work of anyone will be burned, he will forfeit that work; but he himself will be saved; but so as through fire.”


For years now, I’ve wanted to look a closer look at hell and the afterlife, but haven’t felt led to do so.  I try only to write things which are fresh and meaningful, which I feel the Spirit is speaking to me about at the time.  I also try to write primarily of things I’m certain I’ve been shown and avoid much speculation.  That said, I admit I do not know everything about what happens after death, or how things are all going to play out.  All I intend to do here is share one “clue” I recently noticed which is related to “the afterlife.”  I’m sure it is not the whole picture.  I’m also working on a second post which delves a bit deeper, which I hope to publish in the next couple weeks.  I’ll allow and wait for the Spirit to fill in the blanks, to me or others, as He sees fit.  

What I want to look at here is the concept of “destruction;” a term the Bible uses to describe the fate of wickedness or evil.  When trying to get a feel for what the Bible has to say about a subject, I have found it helpful to take the clearest statements first, and use those to help interpret the more vague or confusing things.  With that in mind, as I’ve read the New Testament, the clearest thing I see about the fate of evil men and wickedness is this: they will be destroyed.  Numerous scriptures speak emphatically (though differently) of this destruction.     

While the idea of destruction seems simple enough, it’s actually not.  First of all, the English word “destroy” or some variant of it is used in English translations of the Bible, such as the KJV, to translate around 5 different Greek words, all which have different meanings.  Not only that, but the same Greek word may be translated “destroy” in one place, and something very different in another.  This is why looking at the Greek words is often very helpful to get a better understanding of what the Biblical writers intended.

The most common Greek word translated “destroy” is apollumi.  While “destroy” is a decent translation, apollumi can also mean “to remove,” “to lose,” “to render useless,” and things like that.

Here is one scripture which uses this word, which is often used to support the claim that Jesus taught about and warned of an eternal torment in hell: 

Matthew 10:28 MLV: And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy (apollumi) both soul and body in hell.”

You’ll notice Jesus didn’t say “eternally torture,” but destroy; a very different idea!  However, even if you think Jesus was referring to eternal torment in this statement, consider these scriptures as well:

  • Matthew 10:5-6 MLV:  “Jesus sent forth these twelve apostles and commanded them, saying, Do not go into any road of the Gentiles and do not enter into any city of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost (apollumi) sheep of the house of Israel.”

  • Matthew 16:24-25 MLV“Then Jesus said to his disciples, If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and lift up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life, will lose (apollumi) it and whoever loses (apollumi) his life because of me, will find it.” 

  • 2 John 1:7-8 MLV:  “Because many misleaders have entered into the world, those who are not confessing Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the misleader and the antichrist. Look to yourselves, that you should not destroy (apollumi) the things which we have worked in you, but that we may receive a full reward.

  • 1 Corinthians 8:10-11 MLVFor if anyone sees you, (you who has knowledge), reclining at a table in an idol’s sanctuary, will not his conscience, being weak, be built up to eat idolatrous-offerings? And the weak brother will perish (apollumi) on account of your knowledge, but Christ died because of him.

So, this word apollumi, which continues to be taught as describing an eternal torture in a lake of fire, is also used to record Jesus’ description of Israel in his day, as well to describe the “losing” of their life his followers MUST experience in order to find true Life!  Not only that, but the apostle John used it to warn his readers that by following deceptive ways they could “destroy” the things the Spirit had worked in them, and the apostle Paul used it to describe what can happen to a weaker brother when one with a more mature knowledge of the gospel does something to violate his conscience.  

So here’s a thought: maybe, just maybe, men have read into and taught certain scriptures about “hell” based on their preconceived ideas, their fears, and their own mind, rather than seeking truth impartially, and ultimately by waiting for revelation from the Spirit himself.  Doubt it?  Well, don’t you think that’s exactly what many other Christian denominations have done?  Jehovah’s Witnesses?  Seventh Day Adventists?  Catholics?  Baptists?  Pentecostals?  On and on and on?  No one has all the truth, and no one is immune to deception.  

So what DOES apollumi refer to?  It’s meaning seems fairly broad, but it appears to primarily refer to loss and lack

With that in mind, let’s look at the above verses again.  In Jesus day, the house of Israel was apollumi – they lacked the understanding and apprehension of the fullness of the covenant of promise God had made with Abraham.  Those who would follow Jesus were (and are) to apollumi their own life – their ignorant, fearful, and selfish ways and thoughts, in order to begin to walk in the life of the Spirit.  Those who are mislead by false teachers and teachings can apollumi, or lose/harm, the things the Spirit had begun to work in them.  Those who violate the conscience of a weaker brother can cause that brother to be apollumi – to stumble and lose progress on the path of Truth and Light. 

I believe apollumi is the general idea given in scripture for what awaits ALL wickedness – not just “unbelievers,” but wickedness in general, including what remains of perversion and carnality in myself and other believers.  It seems to me that the more we have clung to inward and outward ways which are not based on the Spirit of love and truth, the more apollumi we will have to undergo to truly live in the Kingdom of God.  For some, once apollumi has taken place, there will be little left, maybe even nothing left in some cases.   Am I talking about “purgatory?”  I don’t know.  Maybe something like that, although certainly not exactly as taught by the Catholic church. 

Here’s some food for thought: In Matthew 13, when Jesus speaks of the word of God falling into good soil and producing a crop of either 30, 60, or 100-fold, perhaps these various measures are dependent on the amount of apollumi the heart has undergone.  In 1 Corinthians 15, when Paul speaks of differences of glory within the resurrection, perhaps those with greater glory have undergone the greater apollumi during their time on earth.  Maybe, the “lake of fire” mentioned in the highly symbolic book of Revelation isn’t a physical lake at all, but is a metaphorical “fire” which facilitates apollumi upon those who have resisted it.  Maybe some who had become entirely wicked are fully destroyed, I don’t know.  I’m not trying to explain everything, but hopefully give some food for thought and a new way of seeing.  We so want “justice” for wickedness, and “punishment” for sin, but it seems we want it more in others than in ourselves!  I believe apollumi is always difficult and painful to some extent, but it seems likely to me to be much more so when one has resisted it.  

I believe God is merciful and good, just as Jesus was.  I do not believe He has arranged things where anyone will experience eternal torture, no matter who they are, even if they have not believed the right things.  I also do not think Jesus’ death was insufficient to atone for ALL sin.  I do, however, believe that wickedness MUST and WILL be burned away – apollumi is unavoidable for us all.  However, it is to be embraced, not resisted, because it isn’t God’s wrath, but His mercy!  From what I see, apollumi isn’t simply punishment to get “justice” nor is it as simple as death or “destruction.”  It is nothing more or less than the way to Life!  Life is permanent, death is not.

By the way, I believe apollumi may well result in one becoming LESS religious, not more.  It will result in the realization of union with God, seeing men according to the spirit and not the flesh, becoming more others-focused and servant-hearted, more compassionate, more wise and bold and loving and peaceful.  If you want this, then you must apollumi your old understandings or ways.  What is of God will survive the fire, and what isn’t will simply burn away.  Amen!

Mark 9:47-49 MLV: “And if your eye offends you, cast it out. It is good for you to enter into the kingdom of God one-eyed, rather than having two eyes, and to be cast into the hell of fire,  where a maggot of them is not dying and the fire is not quenched.  For everyone will be salted with fire and every sacrifice will be salted with salt.

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Posted by on November 12, 2016 in Uncategorized


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