(BY JOEY FAUST) - CORNER'S MISTAKE ABOUT HELL
[The following is a refutation of, "The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted," by Daniel D. Corner (http://www.evangelicaloutreach.org).]
In chapter 4, Corner leaves off exposing the sins of Calvin in order to expose Calvin's immediate followers in the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). He reveals how some of these men that are credited with actually formulating the Five Points of Calvinism (in answer to the Arminians) were persecutors of Arminians and Anabaptists. He argues that these persecuting Calvinists are lost, and incapable of spiritual knowledge; and that Calvin's "perseverance of the saints" must, therefore, be wrong. Yet, once again, Corner is unaware of how this argument refutes his own conditional security doctrine. Roman Catholicism has shed more blood in history than the Protestant Calvinists ever could have thought about shedding; and Rome teaches Corner's conditional security:
Galatians 4:29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
Chapter 5 of Corner's book is quite lengthy. It is filled with almost every Bible verse that Corner could find that appears to teach a loss of eternal salvation. He lists some verses with no commentary at the start of the chapter (all from the NIV).
First, he lists Mark 9:43-49. This is the passage where Jesus warns John about the danger of missing the "kingdom of God" and going to "hell" during it. John is exhorted to diligently cut off every stronghold the Devil has won for sin in his life. But why is a warning about "hell" assumed to be a warning about the loss of eternal salvation? A little study of the Scriptures without the blinders of the "pop theology" inherited from the Dark Ages will go a long way in preserving us from error.
In the Bible, even the DEVIL comes up out of HELL at the end of the Millennial kingdom (Isaiah 14:15, Revelation 20:3); and ALL the people who miss the First Resurrection are raised up out of HELL to stand trial at the Great White Throne:
Revelation 20:5 But the rest of the dead LIVED NOT AGAIN UNTIL the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
If they lived not again "until," it therefore follows that they do live again. Even the lost are not burning in "hell" after the Millennium. They are standing before the Great White Throne:
Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth
12 And I saw THE DEAD, small and great, stand before God...
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and HELL DELIVERED UP THE DEAD which WERE IN them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and HELL were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Whosoever was not found written in the book of life is then cast into the lake of fire (not hell). The word "hell" means that which is under (as in "heel"). The New Earth (Revelation 21:1) will no longer have Hell in its center. The lost will not spend eternity in Hell. They will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. The "lake of fire" is never called "hell." It is never "under" anything. It is before the throne of God (as seen by comparing Daniel 7:10-11 with Revelation 19:20). In Greek (since Corner rejects the AV), the word translated "hell" is often gehenna. This refers to the Valley of Hinnom. However, a deep "valley" of Hinnom, used for a trash dump (also the technical meaning of a "hell" in English), is not the same as a LAKE of fire.
Being cast into "hell," in Mark 9, is contrasted with entering the "kingdom of God" (Mark 9:47). This kingdom is established at the Second Coming (Mark 14:25, 15:43, Luke 21:31, Revelation 12:10, etc.). The unsaved (except for the Beast and False Prophet) are not cast into the Lake of Fire forever until AFTER the Millennial Kingdom. The "hell" of Mark 9 must be present as a place of punishment at the Second Coming, when the Kingdom is established on earth. It is, therefore (as the AV plainly reveals), the same "hell" that gives up its dead after the Millennium, when the dead "live again" at the Great White Throne.
John plainly possesses eternal security when he is warned by Jesus in Mark 9. He is said in the context to belong to Christ (Mark 9:41). Jesus loses none of those who have been given to Him in this sense (John 6:39). John is not warned about losing eternal salvation in Mark 9. He is warned about a temporary judgment during the Millennial age, when Hell is still present as the place of banishment. This temporary abode possesses the eternal fires of God. But the unsaved do not stay in this abode of Hell. The Devil does not even stay there forever. It therefore follows that no warning about "hell" to the Lord's saved disciples (Peter, James, John, etc.) can ever be used as a proof-text against eternal security. The unsaved come out of Hell, after the kingdom. A warning about going to "hell" and missing the coming "kingdom" is a warning about missing the Millennial Kingdom that will be established when the Lord returns. Eternal security on the Last Day (the "eighth day" after the Millennium) is not the subject or context.
To bring the subject of eternal security into the context of Mark 9, Corner must argue that "hell" is another word for the "Lake of fire." In reality, Hades and Gehenna are the same place (i.e. Hell), and neither refer to the Lake of Fire. Hades is revealed as possessing fire and torments (Luke 16:23-24). According to Jesus, Capernaum will be judged more severely than Sodom, and will be thrust DOWN to "hell" (Hades) in Luke 10:15. The Bible teaches that this judgment of Capernaum in Hell (Hades) will occur on the "day of judgment" (Matthew 11:23-24). This cannot be a postmillennial judgment, since Hell (Hades) gives up all of its dead after the thousand years (Revelation 20:13), and therefore, no one can be said to go to "hell" at that time.
In summary, Corner's use of Mark 9 to deny eternal security takes advantage of the Catholic mythology that is so rampant in even many Christian churches, today. It sees "hell" as the Devil's castle, and as the final place of eternal torment for the lost. Contrary to this teaching, the Bible reveals Hell to be a temporary abode that nevertheless, possesses God's eternal fire - the same eternal fire that came down out of heaven from God, and burned up the city of Sodom:
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
The Devil will not be in Hell until the Second Coming of Christ. Hell is not his domain. He has no desire to be anywhere near Hell. After the thousand years, the Devil will be released from Hell. Then, all of the dead will live again out of Hell (they will be resurrected). Of these dead, those who are not found written in the book of life, will then be cast into the lake of fire, forever:
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Those who will be found in the book of life will have their tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4), and they will be dwell with God in happiness, forever. They have believed on the Lord and therefore promised a resurrection on the Last Day:
John 6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the LAST DAY.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Contrary to Corner's doctrine, Jesus loses no one who has ever believed on Him. He may punish them. They may miss the prizes and glories of the Millennial Kingdom (in time). But they are secure on the last day when the eternal age begins.
Corner often makes use of the words of Jesus in Mark 9. But he misses the plain context. He is correct in noticing that the saved disciples are warned. But he is wrong in lumping the Millennial Kingdom and eternity together, with no distinctions. He makes no distinction between the premillennial judgment and the postmillennial judgment. As I have shown, he continually assumes that the kingdom always means heaven, and that heaven always means the eternal kingdom. Corner begins with this assumption and runs with 28 pages of argumentation. Yet, all he ever proves is that true believers can miss the Millennial Kingdom, and that they should labor to enter this wonderful age of blessing.
The next verses that Corner lists are Luke 13:23-24. These Scriptures reveal that not many will be "saved" and that the disciples should "strive" to "enter." Again, the context is plainly the Millennial Kingdom that will be established at the return of the Lord. This can be seen from the next few verses:
Luke 13:28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.
Therefore, the "salvation" in context is salvation into the Millennial Kingdom. Eternal salvation is a necessary qualification for entering this future kingdom, but it is not the only qualification. The gift of eternal salvation is not the same as the prize of entering the glories of the Millennial Kingdom.
Corner next quotes John 6:57-58. Yet, this simply teaches that whoever "eats Jesus" (which in the context, means to "believe" in Him - see 6:47), has eternal life. The context of this life is the Last Day (6:54, 44, 40, 39). The Last Day is the day the lost Pharisees will be resurrected for judgment (John 12:48). This is, therefore, a postmillennial context. All believers will live forever in the eternal age that begins on the Last Day. But they must strive to enter the Millennial age (i.e. the "seventh day" of Hebrews 4).
Corner next quotes 1 Peter 4:18 from the NIV: "And, 'If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?'" The AV reads:
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
This passage does not teach that it is hard to be saved (though the salvation in this context is the judgment of the House of God, and therefore a salvation at the Judgment Seat of Christ). It teaches that there are few among the righteous that will enter the glories of the Millennial Kingdom. Corner errs by interpreting the word "salvation" to be always referring to eternity. Does he think that this is what Paul meant in Acts 27?
Acts 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be SAVED.
There is salvation in this life; there is salvation in the world to come (the Millennium); and there is salvation in the eternal age (after the Millennium).
Finally, Corner lists 1 Thessalonians 5:8 and places the word "hope" in bold print. In the AV this reads:
1 Thessalonians 5:8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the HOPE of salvation.
Of course, Corner's argument is that the salvation in this verse is not secure since the word "hope" is used. First, he errs in not realizing that the word "hope" is sometimes used for a certain expectation (see Acts 2:26, etc.). Secondly, Corner errs in not realizing that there is a salvation that is distinct from eternal salvation. The salvation into the Millennial Kingdom is not absolutely secure. It is a "hope," based on the common understanding of the word. Believers are to be diligent to make it sure.. However, eternal salvation is perfectly secure, based on the absolutely perfect, imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, secured by His Blood.
These answers to Corner's introduction for his 5th chapter will sufficiently answer the majority of arguments Corner raises throughout this chapter, and the rest of his book. With the foundation already laid in these first four parts, I will move more quickly through Corner' s arguments that are repetitive.