The Great Hope (Adapted)


The Great Lie

The one who promised Adam life in disobedience was the great deceiver. And the serpent’s claim in Eden—“You will not surely die”—was the first sermon ever preached on the immortality of the soul. Yet this claim, resting only on Satan’s authority, echoes from pulpits today, and most people accept it as readily as our first parents did. The divine sentence, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20), is made to mean, The soul who sins shall not die, but live eternally. If God had allowed Adam and Eve free access to the tree of life after their fall, sin would have been immortalized. But God has not permitted even one of the family of Adam to eat of the life-giving fruit. As a result, there is no immortal sinner. GrH_a 14.6

After the Fall, Satan instructed his angels to instill in people the belief that they are naturally immortal. After persuading the people to accept this error, evil angels were to lead them to conclude that sinners would live in eternal misery. Now the prince of darkness presents God as a revengeful tyrant who plunges into hell all who do not please Him and looks down on them with satisfaction while they writhe in eternal flames. In this way the one who started all evil paints the Benefactor of the human race with his own characteristics. Cruelty is satanic. God is love. Satan is the enemy who tempts us to sin and then destroys us if he can. How offensive it is to love, mercy, and justice to teach that God torments the wicked dead in an eternally burning hell, that for the sins of a brief life on earth they suffer torture as long as God shall live! A well-educated minister said, “The sight of hell’s torments will increase the happiness of the redeemed forever by making them conscious of how happy they are.” GrH_a 15.1

Where can anyone find such teaching in God’s Word? Will the redeemed exchange feelings of common humanity for the cruelty of the savage? No, such things are not the teaching of the Book of God. “‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die?’” (Ezekiel 33:11). GrH_a 15.2

Does God delight in witnessing unending tortures? Is He pleased with the groans and shrieks of suffering creatures whom He holds in the flames? Can these horrid sounds be music to the ear of Infinite Love? What a terrible blasphemy! God’s glory is not increased by keeping sin alive through ages without end. GrH_a 15.3