Bible Teaching

On the Commonly

Asked Questions


The Hebrew word for "hell" is "sheol," and is variously translated as "hell", "grave", or "pit" in our English Bibles. Additionally, in places such as Psalm 5:5; 9:17; 16:10; etc., some Bible versions translate this as "hell" and others translate it as "grave." This should be a clear clue that much Christian preaching is misguided in implying that Satan's (supposed) fiery kingdom is in view. There is a "hell," but it is not the kingdom of Satan, nor is it eternal and unending, since the Hebrew "olam" and Greek "aion" (source of our word "eon" or "age") do not mean unending time. See: Universal Grace


Certainly, "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom. 14:10), but the purpose of judgment is to effect repentance (Isa. 26:9) and not to punish to no purpose. See: Restore All Creation!


God instituted no prisons or "penitentiarys"; the Bible promotes the principle of restitution. The guilty are to repay the damage they have caused, with death (not eternal punishment!) for capital crimes (Deut. 13:11; 19:20). Furthermore, there is no principle in God's law allowing for unending punishment; even the wicked dead are to be raised for judgment. See: Universal Grace

"Separation" From God and His Grace?

A modern new teaching has suddenly swept through our churches, both Catholic and Protestant, in less than the past half-century. It claims that sinners and unbelievers will not go to “hell” but instead spend eternity “separated from God.” We believe that this suddenly popular teaching is not according to God’s Word!

John 3:17

The only “separation” is relational, not geographical

Whatever their denominational backgrounds, proponents of this new “separation” teaching focus on one primary passage of Scripture to anchor their case, and it is in the Old Testament, not the New: Isaiah 59, verse 2. In the King James Version favored by Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, it reads:

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” –King James Version

However, a closer look at this verse shows that it is speaking concerning a present-life self-imposed Spiritual separation from God, rather than an after-death eternal physical separation for all of eternity.  The “separation” delineated in this verse is therefore relational, not geographical. Here is how some alternative translations clarify the meaning:

“But your sins have come between you and your God, and by your evil doings his face has been veiled from you, so that he will give you no answer.” –Bible in Basic English

“Your sins are the roadblock between you and your God. That's why he doesn't answer your prayers or let you see his face.” –Contemporary Endglish Version

“Rather, it is your own crimes that separate you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he doesn't hear.” –Complete Jewish Bible

“It is because of your sins that he doesn't hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him.” –Good News Bible

“Instead, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have concealed his face from you so that he won’t listen.” –International Standard Version

Nothing in this verse indicates anything about a far-off corner of the universe where sinners spend eternity separate from God’s presence. It is clear from this that the so-called separation occurs in this life when a person’s sins and lifestyle are in contradiction with the morality that God requires of His people. There is a form of separation spoken of, but it is relational, not spatial.

The Bible teaches the opposite of “separation from God”

If there is one major truth that the Bible powerfully affirms about God, it is that He is omnipresent: infinite, universal, all-knowing, all-pervading and ever-present. There is no corner of the universe where He is excluded. The beloved Psalms of David beautifully express this truth:  “Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?  If I ascend to heaven, you are there!  If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!  If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7-10) The Hebrew word, “Sheol,” is very often translated “hell” in other places in our English Bibles. It is obvious that God is everywhere, even in Sheol or hell!

King Solomon acknowledged God’s omnipresence: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). Yes, God does indeed dwell everywhere, in heaven, even so on earth. This is true in our world today as in Solomon’s day.

God, speaking to the Prophet Jeremiah, affirms, “Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:23-24) There is no secret place of “separation from God” where He is not found. The idea that hell or the devil controls some area of the universe where an all-powerful God is absent, is illogical and unbiblical.

The Prophet Amos recorded God’s statement of His omnipresence in the punishment of sinners: “I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them; and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them.” (Amo 9:1-3)

The New Testament expresses well the universal and all-pervading presence of God. “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:24-28)

God dwells everywhere, and His Spirit even dwells within His people. There is no place in the universe where anyone can hide from God!

God will be “All in all.”

It is the height of irony that the Bible actually proclaims the exact opposite of the new teaching that unbelievers spend an eternity of separation from God in some unknown location in the universe. Far from being separated from God, the Prophet Isaiah in a beautiful passage expressed that the time is coming when all of the nations would be restored to fellowship with God:

“The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:1-4)

Isaiah reaffirmed this theme and expanded it to include all of creation in these words: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:6-9) Just as the sea is covered 100% by physical water, so the time is coming when the Spiritual Water of Life will fully and completely engulf the world of mankind.

As a second witness, the Prophet Habakkuk declared, “Behold, is it not by appointment of the Lord of hosts that the nations toil only to satisfy the fire [that will consume their work], and the peoples weary themselves only for emptiness, falsity, and futility? But [the time is coming when] the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:13-14, Amplified Version)

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul referred to this fire that would try men’s work: “Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15)

The purpose of God’s fire of judgment is to try “every man’s work,” which “shall be revealed by fire.” Further, every man’s impure works (sins) will be burned (cleansed and removed) by fire! This is the reason that the Millennial saints stand “upon” the Lake of Fire in Revelation 15:2. We come to a saving knowledge of Christ and are purified of our sins by going through the fire of the Holy Spirit! Yet “every man” eventually will.

Biblical scholars believe that the most distant period of time mentioned in the Bible is found in an important passage in First Corinthians chapter 15. There we read, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” (First Corinthians 15:24-28)

Yes, all things will eventually be put under His Feet, all things subdued unto Him, including death, hell, and the devil! What a wonderful promise! Then the final state foretold by prophets and apostles will arrive, when God is All in all! Amen.

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