Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
I intended to present the material in this month’s article in a Commentary. However it grew in length as more and more material needed to be included to fully cover the topic. The subject is the death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005. He was truly a giant in world affairs, both as a political leader and with his leadership of the largest denomination of “churchianity” (as Dr. Martin called most traditional Christianity today). The article is titled “Pope John Paul II Is in Hell!”
It has been announced by the new pope that John Paul II has been put on the “fast track” for examination for sainthood. While this will no doubt be a popular decision among Catholics, the designation of “saint” will accomplish nothing, and is meaningless. Pope John II is dead, not alive. He cannot know or respond to anything that is done for him now. He will remain dead until his resurrection to judgment. In the meantime Pope John Paul II will remain “in hell.” 1
In 1611 when the King James Version was originally published the word “hell” had a different and a less theological meaning than it has today. According to Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd unabridged edition (Springfield, MA: G&C Meriam Co., 1957), the word “hell” is immediately derived from a Middle English word helle which itself comes from an Old English word helan. Webster’s states that “hell” corresponds precisely to the Hebrew sheol and the Greek hades.
Further, the word helle had a guttural expression to the initial “h” giving it sound a “k” or “ch” to our ears. Common English words today derived from the word “hell” are hall, cellar, color, conceal, hull and occult. All of those words give the sense of enclosure or a hiding. This is precisely the meaning of the Hebrew words sheol and hades which denote an “unseen” place, where the bodies are placed after death.
In the original usage of “hell” in the period of the early 1600s C.E., the word did not have a sense of a place of punishment. That was added by the addition of non-biblical theological concepts being read into the meaning of scriptural words sheol and hades. If hell meant a place of punishment, then according to traditional concepts of hell Christ should have been tortured in hell for three days and three nights while He was dead:
“He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”
Of course, the concept is ridiculous. There is no indication that Christ was tortured in hell, or that He even went to hell as the place that Christian orthodoxy conceives of as hell. In fact, as Dr. Martin has explained several times, if the punishment for sin was eternal torture in hell, then according to orthodox but erroneous non-biblical dogma, if Jesus paid the full price for our sins, then He should be in hell and tortured at this moment. After all that is the supposed penalty for sin!
Jesus did go to hell (Acts 2:31) in the sense that hell (hades in this case) meant grave in the year 1611. Peter in Acts chapter 2 was citing Psalm 16:10 where King David wrote prophetically about the future Messiah. The apostles applied that verse to Jesus resurrection. In case you were wondering, Jesus’ visitation and preaching to the “spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19) took place after His resurrection (verse 18). Speaking of Christ:
“Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.”
“The lower parts of the earth” was what the King James Version translators meant when they used the word “hell.” “Hell” was the place where the body was put. “Hell” also meant the “unseen,” a place where the “soul” goes after death dissolves the unity of the spirit and the body, that together make up the soul.
Our new computer records system is operating well, so there is little likelihood of any delay in sending monthly receipts to all of you who graciously contribute to ASK.
All indications are that you like our new ASK Homepage. We think the format and ease-of-use greatly improves an already excellent website. We hope you agree. Feel free to give suggestions for further improvements and we will consider all of them.
We also hope you like the first chapters of Dr. Martin’s seminal book, Essentials of New Testament Doctrine. It is now going online one chapter at a time. The difference of this book from others (like 101 Bible Secrets) is that all chapters will be made available to ASK readers continually once a chapter appears. If you have not read the book I want to encourage you to begin to do so. This book will open your mind to God’s purpose and goal of creation as never before, in one place (outside of the Bible).
We also hope that once you begin to read this book, you will want to purchase a print copy of the book for yourself. You will not want to wait until the next week for each portion to come out. You will greatly benefit yourself and others. Once you read this book I want to further encourage you to “pass it around” (and buy other copies?) so others can have access to this marvelous information about the plan of God.
I learned the other day that soon more people will access the Internet in Communist China than any other country in the world. That means that although China has only a 7% per capita usage of the Internet, more people will soon use the Internet in China than in the United States or Japan. This is not surprising considering that China has a population of 1.3 billion souls, which is more than 4.3 times the population of the United States. Perhaps most of those users access “community” computers in libraries, Internet cafes, or community centers. ASK has heard from very few of those Chinese Internet users as yet. (If you are out there, please let us know.)
As prosperity grows in China and around the world, this trend of increased Internet use will help open the world to the Gospel of God. Worldwide almost 700 million people access the Internet on an occasional basis. When God begins to direct those people to the ASK website so they can read the liberating truths of God’s Word contained here (primarily from the decades of work by Dr. Ernest Martin), ASK is ready. With your prayers, encouragement, and financial support ASK will continue to prepare to provide the clarity of God’s Word to a needy world.
Please pray that God continues to make this provision of the Gospel to others possible through your help as Associates for Scriptural Knowledge. Thank you, and may God bless you all.
1 Most all of you reading this are “saints” as designated by God. If you have the Spirit of God within you, you possess the seed of eternal life within you. You are holy, you are a saint in God’s eyes. That is what the word “saint” means, one who is set apart by God as holy because he or she possesses God’s “Holy” Spirit.
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