A question for Dr. Torrey: Count Vladimir Gelesnoff says in the December number of his magazine, Unsearchable Riches, ‘the barbarous and heathen dogma of endless torment is refuted by the very passages on which orthodoxy depends for its support.’ Is this statement of Count Gelesnoff’s true?
A. This statement of Mr. Gelesnoff is not true. It is as far from the truth as many others of the errors which this teacher inculcates in public or in secret.
Mr. Gelesnoff, in his article on “HELL,” does not even touch upon the principal “passages upon which orthodoxy depends” for its teaching regarding future punishment. He does not mention them nor make any reference to them. His whole article from start to finish is misleading, either intentionally or through ignorance.
Furthermore, his statement is not only untrue, but it is blasphemous. If it can be shown that the Lord jesus taught the doctrine of endless torment, and it can, then Mr. Gelesnoff accuses the Lord Jesus of teaching a “barbarous and heathen dogma.” Of course, this dos not prove that our Lord Jesus did, but it does prove that the one who says He did is a blasphemer.
The strongest things said in the Bible about future punishment were said by the Lord Jesus Himself. In the 25th chapter of Matthew He says, that at His coming again He will say to those on His left hand, “Depart from Me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire which is prepared for the Devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). And further down He says, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” What the everlasting fire is prepared for the Devil and his angels is our Lord Jesus describes in His revelation made to John in Revelation 20:10 R.V. “And the Devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are (by a comparison with Revelation 19:20 we see that they have already been there 1000 years) and they shall be tormented day and night forever and forever (Rev. 20:10 R.V.). The word translated “tormented” in this passage means “tortured” or “vexed with grievous pains (of body or mind),” “tormented.” These are the definitions of the word given in Grimm’s great German work on the New Testament and in Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. There is no doubt of the significance of the word.
The words translated “forever and ever” mean literally “unto the ages of the ages.” This expression is the strongest possible expression in the Greek lnaguage for absolute endlessness of time. It represents not merely years tumbling upon years, nor centuries tumbling upon centuries, bur aeons tumbling upon aeons in endless procession. This and the similar expressions “unto ages of ages” are usd twelve times in the book from which we quote it: eight times the expression refers to the duration of the existence or reign or glory of God and Christ –no one questions the endlessness of these; once it refers to the duration of the blessed reign of the righteous and in the three remaining instances to the duration of the torment of the Devil, beast, false prophet and the wicked.
If any one is trying to find out what the Bible really means to teach, and not simply trying to prove a preconcieved theory, he meaning is plain enough. “The dogma of endless torment” is not a “barbarous and heathen dogma” but is the teaching of the New Testament and of Jesus Christ Himself. When teachers go astray on their teadching regarding future punishment, teaching restorationism, or annihilationism, or Millenial Dawnism, or any other kindred doctrine, you may expect that they will go astray on some other doctrine, and you do well to watch closely.
The position of the teacher quoted in the question, that a new dispensation begins at the closing verses of the 28th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and that therefore none of the Epistles nor other portions of the Scriptures written before this time properly belong to the Church, and that only the prison Epistles are for us, and that consequently water baptism among other things is not to be practiced by believers today, is wholly without Bible warrant and is a thoroughly pernicious doctrine.
First published in The King’s Business, February 1913, p. 86-7.