Hell Is Not a Garbage Dump

There is a dangerous heresy being taught: that God will save all men. This devotion gives the full counsel of Scripture on this subject, fully refuting this heresy. #Universalism #UniversalSalvation #Hell

If you haven't already been confronted by "universal salvation" beliefs, you probably will be. I hope the information in this post will help you respond biblically. If you want the short one-verse answer that refutes universal salvation and proves the eternal nature of Hell, scroll to the bottom and read the text in red.

As with all false doctrines, universal salvation teachings depend on poor scholarship of Scripture.

Let’s take a look:

1. They claim Jesus is talking about a garbage dump, not hell.

In many Scripture passages where hell is mentioned, the Greek word used for Hell is geenna:

"Definition: Gehenna, a valley west and South of Jerusalem, also a symbolic name for the final place of punishment of the ungodly.
Usage: Gehenna, and originally the name of a valley or cavity near Jerusalem, a place underneath the earth, a place of punishment for evil." ~ Strong's Concordance

Geenna is translated hell in a number of verses including Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 23:15, and Matthew 23:33

If translated literally it would mean that Jesus was warning all wicked people that they will end up in a garbage dump near Jerusalem. 

Obviously, Jesus was not using the word literally. So we look at the context (i.e. the message of the passage) and we combine it with all that Scripture teaches on the subject, and this clarifies that Jesus was symbolically referring to hell. 

But those who believe in universal salvation begin by claiming Jesus was not referring to Hell, but to a garbage dump.

But they don't believe that themselves. They also believe it's symbolic. However, instead of judging the symbolism by context and cross references, they give it this meaning: people suffer a limited death, and then they go to heaven.

Where is the logic in this explanation? 

Does garbage suffer a limited death and then go to garbage heaven?
Does garbage become whole and usable again?  
Why does Jesus say their souls and bodies will be destroyed there if it's only their bodies (Matthew 10:28)
Christians also suffer limited death so why does Jesus only use geenna when referring to the wicked?

2. They ignore passages about Hell that don't use the word geenna

The clearest evidence that there is a Hell is the fact that Jesus talks in other passages about eternal suffering for the wicked without using the word Gehenna. These passages also refute the belief that Hell is a temporary punishment because they always refer to it as eternal punishment. 

There is a dangerous heresy being taught: that God will save all men. This devotion gives the full counsel of Scripture on this subject, fully refuting this heresy. #Universalism #UniversalSalvation #Hell

For example:
Matthew 7:13: Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 

Greek word for "destruction" is "apóleia" and means "eternal destruction."

2 Thessalonians 1:9: "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." 

Greek words for "everlasting destruction" are "aiónios" and "olethros" and they mean "eternal destruction."

Jude 1:7: "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire." 

This passage uses the Greek words "pur" and "aiónios" which means "eternal fire."

Revelation 20:15: "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire." 

This verse uses the Greek word "πυρός" which means "hell fire."

3. They claim 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 promise that everyone will be saved.

There is a dangerous heresy being taught: that God will save all men. This devotion gives the full counsel of Scripture on this subject, fully refuting this heresy. #Universalism #UniversalSalvation #Hell
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” ~ 1 Timothy 2:3-4

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. ~ 2 Peter 3:9

These two passages explain God's desire that all men be saved. This is the same as a parent saying, "I want all of my children to become productive Christians." It's not a promise.

Nor are these the only two passages in Scripture. When combined with the "full counsel of Scripture," we understand that God's wishes are not the same as God's will.

God does not always get His wishes. Any disobedience of God’s commands goes against God’s wishes as these Scriptures prove:

Genesis 6:5-6: "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled." (more on this passage: Does God Change His Mind?)

Jeremiah 35:15: "Again and again I sent all my servants the prophets to you. They said, 'Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and reform your actions; do not follow other gods to serve them. Then you will live in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.' But you have not paid attention or listened to me."

James 1:13: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.."

If we combine 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 with Romans 9:22-23 the message is clear:

Romans 9:22-23: "What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—"

God gives all of us ample opportunity to turn to Him, and 1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9 are good passages to assure us of that promise. But there is no promise that all men will accept God's offer. And God is not going to populate heaven with people who've rejected Him here on earth. 

Universalists also make a weaker argument using 1 Timothy 4:10. If you wish to read why that argument isn't valid, please read: CARM 1 Tim.4:10 and Universalism.  

4. They ignore the unforgivable sin.

There is a dangerous heresy being taught: that God will save all men. This devotion gives the full counsel of Scripture on this subject, fully refuting this heresy. #Universalism #UniversalSalvation #Hell

Mark 3:28-29: "Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin."

Short Answer:

A single verse refutes both universal salvation and the false belief that Hell is not eternal. 

Using the same Greek word, Matthew 25:46 describes eternal life and eternal punishment. Some people claim Hell is simply "eternal death" meaning a person dies and is eternally dead. But this verse refutes that belief as well.

Matthew 25:46: “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 

If you'd like to take a deeper look at the original Greek in that verse, see Matthew 25:46 and Universalism.  


Why is Universal Salvation a dangerous belief? Because it leads people to think that they can reject God and still spend eternity with Jesus in paradise. And Scripture clearly refutes that belief:

John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them.

To read more about the dangers of universal salvation see The Belief that All Men will be Saved

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