Struggling to grasp this verse a bit and its consequences. Can you help? I have often felt that the descriptions of hell throughout the Bible do not paint a clear picture on the debate: is hell perpetual torment or not? In the past I have learned to hedge my bets a little and talk of separation from God (what Jesus suffered on the cross). This form of judgement seems perfectly in line with what some describe awaits those unrepentant sinners in hell. Yet the lamb is right there, presumably watching (this reminds me also of the mass drownings in Noah).
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The plain and normal reading of the Scriptures indicate that eternal damnation is experiential and actual. There is no dispute that Jesus spoke more about eternal damnation in the gospels than he spoke about righteousness and eternal life. If eternal damnation is real, then how or why would the Lamb of God allow perpetual torment for sinners? The Apostle Paul provides the patience of the Lord as the lens through which we are to understand this most difficult of concepts in the Bible.
There are sinners who are condemned, but before their eternal banishment, they had experienced the patience of God. The Apostle Peter mentions this same patience.
Both Peter and Paul recognized that salvation is the result of the patience of the Lord toward sinners. Before the flood hit the earth in the days of Noah, the patience of the Lord continued for 120 years (Gen 6:3) as Peter indicates that the time ran out.
So while he is patient with all sinners, the Lord calls sinners to himself. The Apostle Paul indicated that his salvation resulted from this patience, as he had regarded himself the worst of sinners imaginable.
The Apostle Paul was not only a blasphemer, but as the zealous Pharisee his self-appointed mission was to force Christians to renounce Jesus Christ, and therefore to cause them to blaspheme (Acts 26:11). He was therefore the worst sinner in the world from the perspective of heaven, since his sins were related to blasphemy.
But the patience of God was why he was saved.
In other words, the Lord is in the business of saving sinners, and in the process his patience continues to endure. The following syllogism will help to understand the concept.
The statement is not intended to be tautological, but to provide the nuance that the Lord is patient with all sinners wishing for them all to be saved.
In conclusion, the patience of the Lord applies to all sinners. It is the explicit desire of the Lord that all be saved, because Christ died for all sinners (1 Jn 2:2). Those who are not saved will suffer eternal torment, but not because the Lord was not patient with them at one time.
Your question seems similar to me to one answered by the Romanian (Orthodox) monk, Elder Cleopa, in his book The Truth of Our Faith. Namely:
To this, he answers:
Your calling attention to the Scripture in Revelation also brought to mind something an American Orthodox monk, Seraphim Rose, wrote that could help explain the role the presence of the Lamb:
There is one word in this verse that is mistranslated, and the other is very misunderstood. The first is basanizo. According to Thayer's concordance, the first definition of this word is:
Basanizo means to test the purity of metals. God does not torture or torment anybody. The Scriptures say:
It is believed that basanizo means torture or torment. This is impossible, because our loving Father does not torture anyone. The third definition Thayer gives is "distressed, to be harassed". Since there are only a few occurrences of basanizo, I will go ahead and quote them all and replace the word "tormented":
The second word is theion, which is very closely related to the word "theos"- divine/God. Thayer's concordance says:
So there are three words in this verse that have to do with purification and refinement- basanizo, theion, and fire.
Obviously this testing and purification cannot last forever and ever (because one ever is never enough!), because the Lamb has better things to do than stand in "hell" for "eternity" and watch people get tested and refined for no purpose whatsoever; but that's outside the scope of this question.
In Luke 19:10, Jesus says,
Then Jesus proceeds to tell the Parable of the Ten Talents, in which he distributes 'talents' to His servants and asks them to make a return on their investment. It then goes on to say how each one doubled their return-except for the one who returned nothing.
But in vs 27, it says
Those that are not "with" Jesus are against Him (Luke 11:23),
Therefore, there is no 'neutral ground', you are either a Friend or a Foe.
Hell was created for the devil and his angels; (Matt. 25:41)
God desires that no man perish, but all come to Eternal Life,(2 Pet. 3:9)
but those who choose against the Grace of God, do so at their peril; they have wittingly(or unwittingly) have chosen to be with Satan, and as such suffer the same consequences as he does. The suffering is Real and the torment is Real; yet the choice was theirs. God gave man immortality, because He created man in His image and likeness. He gave man the freedom to choose Life or Death(Deut. 30:19), to choose life is to live with God for eternity; to choose death is to live apart from God(in Hell) for all eternity.
God fully understands the consequences of this descision, therefore He has made every way available in His Mercy through Jesus to avoid it.