If you are a Christian and you are part of the blogosphere, you could not escape the discussion about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins which is …

A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

Rob Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing, would a loving God send people to eternal torment forever…? With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly hopeful—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.

Here is his promotional video

When a person has a low view of scripture, this is the beginning of every heresy. As you can see, he questions if  ‘only a few elect people’ make it to heaven. Well the bible answers this clearly:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

When we view God as an ‘all-loving’ but we leave out the character of his justice and his wrath, then we are left with a distorted view of God. To just focus on just one attribute of God is to only show one side of  ‘his coin’. Here is a video which demonstrates the absurdity of this

Now I will readily admit the the doctrine of hell has to be one the hardest things for our human minds to get our heads around. If I was totally honest, sometimes I do believe that it is a bit severe. However, I know that God is totally just and I trust his judgment more than I trust my own which I know is often flawed. I cannot deny what the bible teaches and I cannot try to make it fit into what I think it should say and what my intellect dictates. Also, when you understand the bad news, it makes the good news of the gospel even more glorious because you understand that we deserve nothing from God but his punishment

Even Martin Bashir can see how contradictory his views are in the interview below. Rob is unable to answer the simple question of does the decisions that we make down here, affect where we go after we die and Martin rightly concludes that he is amending the gospel to make it more palatable. Take a listen.

Carlton Pearson shows his support of the book in the video below and also, as I have stated before, clearly continues to show his low view of scripture where he demotes hell to ‘the divorce court’ for example.

The bible clearly warns us about people like Rob Bell and Carlton Pearson and we would do well to stay well clear of them and their teachings.

Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.(2 Timothy 4:3)

I recommend reading this article which tells us what our response should be in all of this.

Related Posts

Rob Bell: A Brother to embrace or a wolf to avoid

The marks of false ‘christian’ teaching and teachers Part 11 – The Gospel of Inclusion

The Lexi Show: Bishop Carlton Pearson “The Inclusion Conclusion”

  1. yemi says:

    thank you for the post. i have watched a number of youtube videos of Bishop carlton, and i’m quite surprised with his comments on the afterlife. you know the bible is clear about the whole heaven and hell issue, and yes people may think it’s not fair or the punishment is far too extreme, but that is scripture. The lord gives people a lot of chances to get to know him and many dash it down the toilet. What i tend to say to people is if you won’t hand your life over to Christ now and serve him what gives you the right to go to heaven when you die. Many have said to me “well if God is real when i die i’ll say sorry to him for not believing”, and i always say listen mate it will be too late then. it doesn’t help when you have people like Bishop Carlton, Rob bell and others telling peopple that don’t worry you’re all safe we’re all going to heaven anyway God is too good too chuck you all in hell. I pray they repent before time runs out for them and the others.
    Thank you

  2. michelle says:

    Hell is as real as Heaven.And God is a just God and he made a way for us to avoid Hell ,his name is Jesus.I don’t believe God sends us to Hell.God mad Hell and it was created for Satan and his evil Angels.It wasn’t intended for us.But Adam and Eve disobeyed God and Eve went against what God told her and so forth,we know what happened there and throughout because of Adam and Evil and Satan in the Garden of Eden.My point is if we die and go to Hell,we sent ourselves there.God like I said made away by sending his only son,our savior Jesus so we may have life in Heaven.All we have to do is repent,accept the free gift of salvation through Jesus and turn fron our wicked ways.We have have many choices hear but eternity has only two Heaven or Hell.I choose Heaven and I choose to live my life according to the Bible.God gave us free will when he created man.He couldve made us robots without a choice but he didn’t want robots.So with freewill came the tree of life in Eden.Adam and Eve had the choice to obey God or disobey him and live with the consequences.They made their choice and that same choice applies to us all.So again Hell wasn’t created for us but know defiled thing shall enter Heaven and if we out here living like the devil and not accepting Jesus in our lives and turning away from sin and repenting and we die,we sent ourselves to hell.Sorry I wrote so much .I just don’t think its fair and I dont mean anyone reading this but in general to make God out to be just some impersonal tyrant waiting for the chance to pass judgement so he can send us to hell.If anything he is holding his judgement and giving us chance after chance to get ourselves right.

  3. John says:

    Maybe hell isn’t everything it’s been passed on to us as. Perhaps God’s love and justice work differently than we think or want them to. I am skeptical about calling into question someone’s love for God, or deeming them as false teachers because their ideas are different. They are reading the same scripture. Their conclusion is that God’s love is more overwhelming than we think we can imagine.

    Stay blessed…john

  4. vintagegirl says:

    Jesus talked about hell a lot, and His descriptions were anything but neutral. If we reflect on the cross and all that He had to endure on our behalf, the sheer torture, pain, and fear in the slaughter that He endured on our behalf , there is no way you can take the idea of hell lightly. If it weren’t “that terrible” than Jesus wouldn’t have had to die such a horrible death in order to keep us from going there. This should give us an incredible burden to see those who are lost come to Jesus for salvation.

  5. Noel says:

    Great topic! I have not read the book yet, but I am eager to start reading it so that I can have a stronger opinion about it. However, after watching the video with Martin Bashir, I noticed that Bell did answer the question, he did say that believing in Jesus is relevant to what happens in the afterlife. Also, I noticed that Martin was trying to put words in Bell’s mouth, which I think is a poor way of interviewing. I am unsure about the real status of hell, but I do believe that choosing to live apart from God is a real thing. However, I also believe that God is more powerful and more loving than we can ever imagine with our limited minds, so maybe this is why we have the concept of an eternal hell, since we cannot comprehend how can a just God send evil people to Heaven, we tend to prefer that God punishes those who are evil, because we would do the same thing. Just a thought. If Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was complete to forgive our sins, why do we need to measure His love with the concept of eternal damnation? Just a question. Thank you.

    • Alan Higgins says:

      I do not think Martin was putting words in is mouth at all. He asked him a simple question and pressed him on his answer because in one breath he says it is very important what we do before deth but then contradicts himself by saying that basically Gods love will win. You say that ‘since we cannot comprehend how can a just God send evil people to Heaven’ but that is just the problem. No person is good and we ALL have an evil and depraved nature menaing that no good person goes to heaven but bad people go to heaven because of a good and forgiving God and because we take on Christs goodness and righteousness and not our own.

  6. Jon Pannell says:

    It’s funny because I’m blogging on his book, chapter by chapter. But I’m not in any way going to bash him. It’s some crazy stuff that he’s written, though. Is he trying to compromise the Gospel so that people will warm up to Christianity?

  7. Paul says:

    I would disagreed with Pastor Rob. I am here to affirm that hell is real because I know that demons are real. I am not here to simply quote scriptures but to testify that the Bible is real about hell. So if there is hell there must also be heaven. This means we have a choice to make. I hope you would take the time to read this short story / testimony, YOUR CHOICE YOUR DESTINY and you’ll see what I am saying.


    Then read a related link:


  8. Hamman says:

    Have we considered what the word “hell” meant in its original context? To the Jews, it meant “grave”. The word translated as “hell” appears 31 times in the Bible from the Hebrew word “sheol,” which means “the grave”. What about the meaning of this word to the listeners of the New Testament? In the New Testament, “hell” appears 10 times from the Greek word “hades,” which, again, means “the grave”.
    Its used 12 times from the Greek word “gehenna,” which, if you look up in current translations, says “a place of burning”. But Ghenna was not a symbolic place, it was a dump outside of Jerusalem! Only 1 time is “hell” referred to the Greek word “tartarus,” which means “a place of darkness”.
    Its great to discern the word of God and to understand it, but how can we do that given we are a different generation and a different culture? My point is that the contemporary meaning of “hell” might be based on interpretations of other people, not our understanding of the Biblical contexts.

    • wunmi says:

      All of this is so amazing for me, just yesterday i saw an article on ‘hell and judgement’ and i had to do a search through the desktop bible (esword) with the four words u mentioned and i had a clear understanding.

      Most of us modern christians get tripped up by the gehenna, hades, sheol and tartarus, but there is a phrase in the bible that cannot be disputed – the lake of fire (rev 20). that’s the place for judgement. and that cannot be argued away.

      • Hamman says:

        Ya, its been pretty amazing for me too, because I just took hell to mean whatever my pastor was preaching about it. About the “lake of fire” in Rev 20, what do you think about verse 14: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire” or in more literal translation, “And death and hades were cast into the lake of fire”. That makes me think that this “lake of fire” is most probably not hell.

    • Hamman says:

      Linus, that is excellent, thanks so much! So let’s agree that hell is not eternal, but final. What about those of us who go to heaven; is there a guarantee for everlasting life? What keeps us from sinning again in heaven?

      • Linus Daniel says:

        Dear Hammam,

        Re: Eternal life – It is a gift – we do not “naturally” posses it
        And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal “life”.
        (1Jn 5:11-13 ESV)

        “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not “perish” but have eternal “life”.
        (Joh 3:16 ESV)

        Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall “not see life”, but the wrath of God remains on him.
        (Joh 3:36 ESV)

        Re: New Sins in heaven (Never thought of this before):
        There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
        (1Co 15:41-44 ESV)

        I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the “dead” will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
        (1Co 15:50-53 ESV)

        Sin will also be final:

        When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
        (1Co 15:54-56 ESV)

        Wages of sin is Death:
        That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
        (Rom 5:21 KJV)

        In the new age:

        And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
        (Rev 21:3-6 ESV)

        In religions like Buddhism, they key focus is for the ability of the soul to attain Nirvana through their teachings and the assumption that we have a soul that was neither created nor can be destroyed.
        The Genesis record has a very different story! Adam came into existence! Adam died!
        He was dust and to dust he returned. The tree of “life” was shut since then.

        And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a “living” “soul”.
        (Gen 2:7 KJV)
        Dust + God’s breath => Living soul

        Note how modern translators translate the word soul (no contradiction):
        then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living “creature”.
        (Gen 2:7 ESV)

        Living creature = living soul

        Death is a reality (Other religions like Hinduism etc. go into very great detail to explain the migration of souls but the Genesis record is very plain on the fate of humans):
        till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
        (Gen 3:19 ESV)

        Behold, all souls are Mine. As the soul of the father, also the soul of the son, they are Mine. “The soul that sins, it shall die”. [Ezekiel 18:4]


  9. Hamman says:

    In response to your response Linus, I’m not sure I’m clear with the answer. My question was based on the premise that we see an eternal heaven as meaning life forever, which implies we will not sin.

    But why won’t we sin? Will we no longer have free will to choose between good and evil? Or, will we be like God, knowing good and evil, but always choosing good? The verses you gave haven’t answered these questions.

    For instance, 1 Co 15:41-44 and 1Co 15:50-53 talk about that which is raised being imperishable. But the Bible also says that all will be raised, some to eternal life, some to eternal punishment. Since what has been raised is imperishable, doesn’t it mean that eternal punishment cannot make us perish, but rather suffer for eternity?

    Ezekiel 18:4 doesn’t shed too much light on this from my perspective, because if the sinful soul dies, then we all should be dead. I know that by believing in Jesus we have eternal life. But isn’t our soul supposed to be dead, yet it comes back to life, even after dying because of sin? In that case, how permanent would the re-destruction of this dead-and-brought-back-to-life soul be in hell?

    Finally, Rev 21:3-6 re-emphasizes my original question, because God is saying there will be no sorrows or death and so on. My question is how will this be?

    • Linus Daniel says:

      Dear Brother Haman,

      Nice to discuss with you.I hope you’d agree with me that the belief in Jesus brings about salvation. Our beliefs/misbeliefs/unbeliefs will not affect our salvation. Sorry about the long answer that follows…

      A.] I Cor 15:41-44 is an encouragement verse for those being saved. “It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory.”
      Similarly, “and we shall be changed (v 52)” implies we will have a “new” body and mind. For instance, Jesus said we will no longer desire to marry in the kingdom. I.e. we will view life differently. Adultery and fornication will Not be in the scope of the new body.

      To a similar question on the after life Jesus’ replied:
      “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. “ (Mat 22:30 ESV)

      I have not experienced this new immortal body to explain how it thinks and functions.A lot can be understood from Jesus’ resurrected body as that is the only evidence of resurrection of eternal life we have. (Elisha healed a young lad and brought him back to life, but that boy would have eventually died again. (2Ki 4:34))

      Jesus is the first fruits:
      “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” (1Co 15:20-23 ESV)

      Jesus is the first person in human form to reach heaven! Paul says he is the firstfruits, “then at his coming those who belong to Christ”
      Salvation comes at Jesus’ return to those who have died in faith. No one has attained salvation for themselves without Jesus Christ:
      “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom 5:12 ESV)
      “so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. “ (Rom 5:21 ESV)

      “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Co 2:9 KJV)

      It is written that:
      “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Mat 4:1 ESV)

      In his current state of glory and honour (i.e. post resurrection) can this happen to Jesus be tempted again?
      If you answer Yes! Then it will also happen to you when you get to heaven.
      If you answer No!, in like manner we will also not suffer temptation anymore.

      “for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. “ (Heb 4:10 ESV)

      The book of revelation expands a bit on the details of resurrection.

      “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. “ (Rev 20:4-6 ESV)

      * What is second death and why does it have no power over these?
      * Why did the rest of the dead not come to life until the thousand years (It does not matter if 1000 years is literal or symbolic for our discussions).?
      * Why – Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection?

      Eternal death brings about eternal shame and condemnation i.e. there is no other chance for ever.

      “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. “ (Rev 20:12-15 ESV)

      This “seems” to be the resurrection of the condemned as they were judged “according to what they had done”. This is so very very important and completely opposite to the traditional preaching (unable to find such a justice equation in the bible) that an infinite God “requires” infinite punishment irrespective. When you come before the righteous judge of heaven please expect to be judged according to what you have done and justly – not disproportionately.

      God has created millions of people knowing fully well that only few will emerge victorious. He is interested in the few for eternity. He is not interested in the rest to just cause them infinite pain. He lets the rest enjoy life and perish like the beasts post a one time judgement.
      “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Mat 5:44-45 ESV)

      Even a criminal can expect a fair judgment and punishment from the LORD God Almighty as he “deserves” (and not a disproportionate punishment of eternal torture).

      The Basis for God’s Judgments

      It is only fair that one gets punished proportional to his or her crimes. God’s justice system does not allow for indefinite punishment for finite sins. Consider if an un-repented thief deserves to be punished through all eternity – minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, century by century…in eternal flames? Is God a Sadist? No! Rather the following verses demonstrate the fairness in God’s justice:
      Note the word PERISH
      “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9]

      Give to them according to their work and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more. [Psalms 28:4-5]

      “Behold, I am against you, O inhabitant of the valley, O rock of the plain, declares the LORD; you who say, ‘Who shall come down against us, or who shall enter our habitations?’ I will punish you according to the fruit of your deeds, declares the LORD; I will kindle a fire in her forest, and it shall devour all that is around her.” [Jeremiah 21:13-14]

      He “will give to each according to his works:” everlasting life truly to those who with patience in good work seeking glory and honor and incorruptibility; but to the ones truly disobeying the truth out of self-interest, and obeying unrighteousness, will be anger and wrath, [Rom 2:6-8]

      “God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the sons, and on the sons of sons, to the third and to the fourth generation.” [Exodus 34:6-7]
      if you note carefully that God’s judgments on the wicked is upto max four generations. Limited!

      QUESTIONS to ponder
      * What is second death?
      It is very difficult to answer this question if we do not agree on normal death in the first place – That we die when we die. Other religions may preach we do not “really die” but a mysterious soul continues on.

      The beasts are biologically similar to humans and have the breath of life. The Buddhist will disagree with me if I state that the soul of the animal dies at its last breath. Think of human death as no different from that of the decaying blade of grass.

      * What were thrown into fire?
      Death, Hell and those not found in the book of life.

      * How can Hell be thrown into fire?
      Means – “Hell” or “Hades” or GRAVE will be no more Eternally! In the end when sin ceases and when we have attained immortality then grave will have no purpose so it ends.
      As fire destroys eternally, Grave or Hell is destroyed forever or permanently or eternally.

      * How can you take death and throw into fire?
      Clearly the fire signifies “eternal” end of things – including death, grave and all wicked people.
      if you explain how death is taken in ones hands and thrown into fire then we can also understand how those not found in the book of life are also thrown into fire.

      To give a very simple answer to your question: “How permanent would the re-destruction of this dead-and-brought-back-to-life soul be in hell? “

      How permanent is the death of a plant that rots and decomposes? The plant will continue to decay and finally vanish unless an external force from God chooses to revive it. In other words our bodies will decay and be lost for ever in the natural course. No soul survives auto-magically. An external force is required to revive the being (body and soul). This is the teaching of the resurrection. So without the resurrection nothing survives. We are born with the gift of life not Eternal life. Eternal life is a gift from God. In the absence of eternal life there is death or punishment followed by Eternal death.

      As Jesus once taught:
      “But rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Matthew 10:28]

      The purpose of Hell/Grave is to destroy the body and soul.

      God’s Judgment – Not to beat the hell out of you because you have not heard of Jesus – but to vindicate his faithful. Consider why God judged the world during Noah’s days. Why he overthrew Sodom? Consider further the following verses (section reproduced from my blog):

      The oppressed can take hope and comfort because the wicked of the world will not go unpunished as the following verses demonstrate:
      “Do not fret yourself with evil doers; and do not be envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon wither like the grass; and fade as the green herb.” [Psalms 37:1-2]

      “And I will visit evil on the world, and their iniquity on the wicked. And I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease, and will lay low the pride of tyrants.” [Isaiah 13:11]

      “The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth, for the LORD has an indictment against the nations; he is entering into judgment with all flesh, and the wicked he will put to the sword, declares the LORD.’ [Jeremiah 25:31]

      “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD. “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” [Isaiah 66:22-24]

      We see here the shameful end of the wicked portrayed figuratively. The bodies of the wicked will be “dead” and preserved shamefully to vindicate the righteous and bring about the victory of good over evil. No concept of eternal torture is taught in this passage or any other passage. The next passage gives a very similar message.
      “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. [Malachi 4:1-3]

      The end of the wicked is described as “ashes under the feet” of the vindicated righteous. God assures the righteous:
      “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Romans 12:19]

      Lets us then summarize:
      “The wages of sin is eternal roasting and pain”
      or as we read it
      “The wages of sin is death!”
      Death = Eternally perished

      “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should NOT PERISH but have eternal life.” (Joh 3:16 ESV)


      • Alan Higgins says:

        Linus, I totally disagree with what you have said here but cannot go into each point but the bible does declare that after death, people are still self-conscious.

        Rev 6:9-11
        9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants[c] and their brothers[d] should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

        You see that they were able to speak, hear, remember the past.

        When you look at scripture in context, the bible clearly states that unbelievers do not just perish but there is a consciousness after death

        • Linus Daniel says:

          Dear Alan,

          Nice to met you. As you rightly point out we should look at scripture in context. So here is my context from scriptures (ignoring theological foundations for a moment). Unfortunately to establish a context the answer has to be long and cover many scriptures to assert the truth. So here goes:

          When Jesus referred to “scriptures” he is referring to the Old Testament scriptures which he himself read and accepted and came to fulfill. When trying to understand a book like revelation it is very important to get the context of the book from Old Testament scriptures. The concepts and foundations are laid there and the New testament only expands on these and do not contradict these. “Search the scriptures” Jesus said so let us make a search of the word “soul” from the scriptures that Jesus read.

          The hebrew word translated as “soul” in our English bibles is “nephesh”. Let us examine the bible passages that use this word to get a clearer understanding:

          Gen 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life (nephesh), and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

          Gen 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh) that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

          Gen 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (nephesh) after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

          Gen 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life (nephesh), I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

          Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (nephesh).

          Let us examine few other passages as it is impossible to go through every occurrence of this word here but I encourage you to do so in your own time using a concordance.
          Lot said:
          Gen 19:20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul (nephesh) shall live.

          Balaam said:
          Num 23:10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me (nephesh) die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!

          Job 36:14 They (nephesh) die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

          Eze 13:19 And will ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls (nephesh) that should not die, and to save the souls (nephesh) alive that should not live, by your lying to my people that hear your lies?

          Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls (nephesh) are mine; as the soul (nephesh) of the father, so also the soul (nephesh) of the son is mine: the soul (nephesh) that sinneth, it shall die.

          Jonah 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life (nephesh) from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.
          Jon 4:8 And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself (nephesh) to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

          Lev 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead (nephesh), nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.

          Lev 21:11 Neither shall he go in to any dead body (nephesh), nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother;

          Jdg 16:30 And Samson said, Let me (nephesh) die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

          Hope you are able to establish a meaning for nephesh. Now let us turn our attention to the passage you brought up. Interpreting Revelation requires even more context so here goes:

          The first question to ask is what does the passage mean and why it was written? Let us for instance consider the previous verse:
          “Rev 6:8 And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”

          How do we understand verse 8 (4th seal)? Who is the rider? How can a rider of a horse be called “Death”? Surely, Death is not a person. In some religions you have a person responsible for snatching souls at death. (Yamraj in Hinduism, Thanatos in Greek, etc.). Further, how did “Hades” follow him? Looks like his horse had a trailer and “hell” and all its beings were in motion. The key question is: Are the passages in Revelation to be interpreted literally or metaphorically / symbolically? Context is important.

          Let us examine the book of revelation a bit further:
          Jesus is described like this before the seals were open:
          “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes…” (Rev 5:6 ESV)

          Question to consider:
          Does Jesus literally carry seven horns and seven eyes?
          Does he look like a lamb?
          What is the purpose of this description?

          Let us consider the following passages of the 6th seal:
          “And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;” (Revelation 6:12-15 KJV)

          Questions to examine:
          Are the events of the 6th seal literal or figurative of something?
          Were they happening in the presentence – i.e. as John literally saw, or are they future or they past?
          If heaven departed as a scroll and all the stars bombarded the earth, the sun itself ceased to exist (burned out) then how can kings, slaves and free men all survive? Is this literal or figurative?

          When we look at the events under the fifth seal it is both encouraging and discouraging. It is discouraging because more of the faithful will continue to be slain and God will not immediately interfere to bring about justice. It is encouraging because God will eventually bring about justice. This judgment will be just and rational as each one deserves. God has said “Vengeance is mine” so the saints have to trust his word on it and wait as wickedness continues to prevail.

          Let us now take a closer look at the metaphor of “speaking souls” under the altar. A direct parallel of this account is found way back in Genesis when Cain unjustly murdered Abel. Abel’s life was cut short considering he could live a 1000 years those day and without any offspring. Cain however married, had children and even went on to build a city. Now in the record we find Abel’s blood cried out to the Lord:
          “And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Gen 4:10 ESV)

          This has been the cry of many of the saints – Abel, the prophets, etc. under the Old testament, John the baptist, Jesus and even after his Jesus’ death his faithful followers like that Stephen and many others.
          “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (verse 10)

          Here is God’s promise of restoration and justice:
          “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain.” (Isa 26:19-21 ESV)

          Did Abel’s blood cells transform to a mouthpiece and started “crying” to God? Literal or metaphor? From a human standpoint the breaking of the fifth seal is a disadvantage to the believers in Christ. They continue to suffer the same plight as Abel, but their glory is that their faith bears witness to us.

          More metaphors:
          God approached and reasoned with Cain before the murder. He gave him opportunity to change:
          “The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7 ESV)

          Interesting how God describes SIN: “a crouching beast ready to strike”.
          “crouching at the door” – Door? What door? Which door?

          Getting back to speaking souls, Daniel who wrote a similar book to revelation describes his plight after all the visions of the mad age to come:
          “But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” (Dan 12:13 ESV)

          This is the message of resurrection and hope taught in the bible. Hope? We die in hope that God will restore us and execute his justice eventually and bring a new world order. Restoration will happen in the end of days in the meanwhile we remain in the dust of the earth.
          “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan 12:2 ESV)

          The saints that plead to God to bring justice are echoes of an age old cry. From the blood of Abel till that point and further even to our age.
          So Jesus taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come”

          To conclude this section let us then examine the souls under the altar and what they signify:
          Souls – “represent” the lives of the faithful who were slain unjustly
          Why Altar – An altar was a place of sacrifice. These faithful men had sacrificed their very lives on account of their faith.
          Souls that speak – Metaphor like the blood of Abel cried out to God – The book of Revelation is full of such language.
          The fifth seal: The opening of the 5th seal revealed that more faithful will be slaughtered before the judgments of God will be eventually executed.


          • Linus Daniel says:

            This is an excellent Psalm by the Sons of Korah on the fate of the wicked (“Their graves are their homes forever”) and the eventual victory of the righteous through resurrection (“God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol”).

            Psa 49:1 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
            Psa 49:2 both low and high, rich and poor together!
            Psa 49:3 My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
            Psa 49:4 I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
            Psa 49:5 Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
            Psa 49:6 those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?
            Psa 49:7 Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life,
            Psa 49:8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice,
            Psa 49:9 that he should live on forever and never see the pit.
            Psa 49:10 For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.
            Psa 49:11 Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names.
            Psa 49:12 Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish.
            Psa 49:13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
            Psa 49:14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
            Psa 49:15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah
            Psa 49:16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases.
            Psa 49:17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.
            Psa 49:18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed –and though you get praise when you do well for yourself–
            Psa 49:19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light.
            Psa 49:20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

            (From ESV)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s