The story of Mary Ellen Wilson chronicles the first documented case of child abuse in America. Her’s is a harrowing story of unwarranted torture and providential rescue. What makes her story even more interesting, is the means taken to secure that rescue.
A Methodist missionary, Etta Angell Wheeler recounts the story she was told. “A family of three persons, a man, a woman and a little girl, supposed to be five or six years old; that during these two years the child had been a close prisoner having been seen only once by the other tenants; that she was often cruelly whipped and very frequently left alone the entire day with the windows darkened, and she locked in an inner room.”
Wanting to verify the story, Etta went to see for herself. Here’s what she found in her own words. “…after a time, the door was slightly opened and a woman’s sharp voice asked my errand. I began telling her of her sick and lonely neighbor and talked on until, unconsciously, she had opened the door, so that I could step in. This I did and, being an unbidden guest, made a very brief call. I was there only long enough to see the child and gain my own impression of her condition. While still talking with the woman, I saw a pale, thin child, barefoot, in a thin, scanty dress so tattered that I could see she wore but one garment besides.
It was December and the weather bitterly cold. She was a tiny mite, the size of five years, though, as afterward appeared, she was then nine. From a pan set upon a low stool she stood washing dishes, struggling with a frying pan about as heavy as herself. Across the table lay a brutal whip of twisted leather strands and the child’s meagre arms and legs bore many marks of its use. But the saddest part of her story was written on her face in its look of suppression and misery, the face of a child unloved, of a child that had seen only the fearsome side of life. These things I saw while seeming not to see, and I left without speaking to, or of, the child.”
Etta was compelled to help, but how? The local authorities were reluctant to act upon the child cruelty laws currently in place, because no laws protected children from abuse at the time. For a few agonizing months Etta tried fruitlessly to find relief for Mary. Wheeler was familiar with the animal cruelty laws recently enacted. In desperation she reasoned that the life of Mary was as important as that of an animal, so she turned to Henry Bergh, a local advocate for the animal humane movement and the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Mr. Bergh listened to Etta tell of Mary’s distress, he wasn’t sure if he could help, but promised to do what he could and get back to her when he knew more.
Etta explains what happened next. “Mr. Bergh called upon me to ask if I would go to the Court House, the child having been already sent for. He expressed pleasure that he need not ask me to go to a police court, Judge Lawrence of the Supreme Court having kindly taken the case. After we had waited a short time in the Judge’s Court, two officers came in, one of whom had the little girl in his arms. She was wrapped in a carriage blanket and was without other clothing than the two ragged garments I had seen her in months before. Her body was bruised, her face disfigured, and the woman, as if to make testimony sure against herself, had the day before, struck the child with a pair of shears, cutting a gash through the left eye-brow and down the cheek, fortunately escaping the eye.
The child was sobbing bitterly when brought in but there was a touch of the ludicrous with it all. While one of the officers had held the infuriated woman, the other had taken away the terrified child. She was still shrieking as they drove away and they called a halt at the first candy shop, so that she came into court weeping and terrified but waving as a weapon of defense a huge stick of peppermint candy. Poor child! It was her one earthly possession. The investigation proceeded. The child’s appearance was testimony enough, little of mine was needed, and, thus, on Thursday, April 9, 1874, her rescue was accomplished. This Mr. Bergh had effected within forty-eight hours after first hearing of the case.”
When Mary was asked to tell of her situation, she had this to say to the court. “My father and mother are both dead. I don’t know how old I am. I have no recollection of a time when I did not live with the Connollys. Mamma has been in the habit of whipping and beating me almost every day. She used to whip me with a twisted whip—a rawhide. The whip always left a black and blue mark on my body. I have now the black and blue marks on my head which were made by mamma, and also a cut on the left side of my forehead which was made by a pair of scissors. She struck me with the scissors and cut me; I have no recollection of ever having been kissed by any one—have never been kissed by mamma. I have never been taken on my mamma’s lap and caressed or petted. I never dared to speak to anybody, because if I did I would get whipped. I do not know for what I was whipped—mamma never said anything to me when she whipped me. I do not want to go back to live with mamma, because she beats me so. I have no recollection ever being on the street in my life.”
Because no laws protected children from abuse at the time, statutes against cruelty to animals were invoked to remove her from the home.
The RSPCA was founded in England in 1824, Henry Bergh founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1866. As the movement gathered momentum, the countries first national humane organization was established on October 9, 1877, in Cleveland Ohio. Its first goal was to secure humane treatment for livestock in transit and working animals. Child protection and safety concerns were adopted into the American Humane’s platform in 1878, four years after the rescue of Mary Ellen Wilson. Few people today realize that child protection laws came after and were birthed out of the SPCA movement, which was founded on the clear belief that all animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment and must be protected under the law.
Those same beliefs thrive today. It’s socially unacceptable to mistreat or torture an animal in today’s society, let alone a child. Most people are disgusted by the treatment Mary Ellen endured and wonder what kind of a sick mind would treat a child with such malice. To punish someone for doing wrong is one thing, but to punish or torture someone who has no idea what is expected of them, goes beyond what a compassionate mind would think and do.
I was discussing salvation with a few mature Christians the other day. We agreed that it was important to take the salvation message of Jesus to the world. But when I talked about the coming Kingdom of God they fell quiet and were less enthusiastic. I asked why. Jesus instructed his church to spread the gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world. The gospel of salvation is good news, but it isn’t the gospel Jesus preached. It seems to me that the good news of salvation is a gospel about Jesus rather than the gospel of Jesus. I pointed out that Jesus never called on people to accept him as their savior so they could be saved, rather he taught in parables, obscuring his teachings. Not having cell service or Wi-Fi at our location we could only referrer to the Bible. Here are some of the scriptures we referenced in our discussion:
Matthew 13:10-18 New International Version (NIV)
10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Jesus taught that not everyone is being called during this life. Rather we must be drawn to Jesus by God. Jesus didn’t try to bring salvation to the majority, he hid it from them in parables, revealing knowledge only to those God had drawn to him. This would have put salvation out of reach for the public at large. I believe the same is true today, God calls those he has a purpose for during this life.
John 6:44 New International Version (NIV)
44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
NIV 1 Corinthians 1:28-29 | NIV
God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called.
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
My belief that not everyone is called during this life was received with skepticism from my friends. They countered that humans were children of God and God will receive any who come to Jesus through faith and that the only way to be saved was by accepting Jesus as our savior.
John 5:24-26 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
24 “I assure you, anyone who hears what I say and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life. They will not be judged guilty. They have already left death and have entered into life. 25 Believe me, an important time is coming. That time is already here. People who are dead will hear the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. 26 Life comes from the Father himself. So the Father has also allowed the Son to give life.
Acts 4:12 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
12 Jesus is the only one who can save people. His name is the only power in the world that has been given to save anyone. We must be saved through him!”
2 Timothy 1:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
9 God saved us and chose us to be his holy people, but not because of anything we ourselves did. God saved us and made us his people because that was what he wanted and because of his grace. That grace was given to us through Christ Jesus before time began. 10 And now it has been shown to us in the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus. He destroyed death and showed us the way to have life. Yes, through the Good News Jesus showed us the way to have life that cannot be destroyed.
Romans 10:9-10 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
9 If you openly say, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from death, you will be saved. 10 Yes, we believe in Jesus deep in our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we openly say that we believe in him, and so we are saved.
John 6:47 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
47 “I can assure you that anyone who believes has eternal life.
John 3:16-17 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
16 Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.17 God sent his Son into the world. He did not send him to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him.
They continued to explain that those who didn’t receive Jesus will be in the torments of Hell forever rather that in heaven with Jesus. I agreed that salvation alone came through Jesus, but eternal life also came through him alone. I triumphed John 3:16 as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I contended if only those who believe on Jesus gain eternal life those who don’t believe in Jesus won’t gain eternal life. Therefore, those who died not knowing Jesus couldn’t be tormented in Hell forever as they wouldn’t have the eternal life that came only through believing in Jesus. As well, I clarified that believers didn’t go to heaven immediately after death but had to wait in their graves for resurrection when Jesus returned.
John 6:39-44 New International Version (NIV)
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”
41 At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
Jesus told his followers that when he returns, ushering in the earthly Kingdom of God, that’s when we are resurrected and receive our eternal life. Bible scholars say the more times something is repeated the more important it is. Jesus repeats we will be raised on the last day when he returns four times during in this one conversation. Those verses are reinforced by Paul.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 Evangelical Heritage Version (EHV)
Instruction Concerning the Resurrection of the Dead at Christ’s Second Coming
13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep,[a] so that you do not grieve in the same way as the others, who have no hope. 14 Indeed, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, then in the same way we also believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus.
15 In fact, we tell you this by the word of the Lord: We who are alive and left until the coming of the Lord will certainly not go on ahead of those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, encourage one another with these words.
“So, your saying Christians who have died aren’t in heaven now? Came the curt reply. That’s not right! Their souls are in heaven with Jesus.”
“That could be true if they had an immortal soul. But when did humans ever have an immortal soul?” I asked. There was a pregnant pause as they thought, so I answered my own question. “Most people believe humans got an immortal soul when God created Adam. But that’s not what the Bible tells us. The word God inspired to be used was nephesh, the same word used to describe all fleshly animals. When you check the Strong’s concordance for the terms of usage, we’re told it describes mortality, the opposite of immortality. Later, God kept Adam out of the Garden of Eden so he couldn’t eat from the tree of life. If we already possessed immortality, it would have done no good to keep us away from the tree of life as we would already be immortal.”
IHOT(i) (In English order)
7 H3335 וייצר formed H3068 יהוה And the LORD H430 אלהים God H853 את H120 האדם man H6083 עפר the dust H4480 מן of H127 האדמה the ground, H5301 ויפח and breathed H639 באפיו into his nostrils H5397 נשׁמת the breath H2416 חיים of life; H1961 ויהי became H120 האדם and man H5315 לנפשׁ soul. H2416 חיה׃ a living
H5315 נפשׁ – Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon Number
Previous Strong’s #H5314 Next Strong’s #H5316
From H5314; properly a breathing creature, that is, animal or (abstractly) vitality; used very widely in a literal, accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental)
KJV Usage: any, appetite, beast, body, breath, creature, X dead (-ly), desire, X [dis-] contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart (-y), (hath, X jeopardy of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortality, one, own, person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves, + slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it.
Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions
- soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
- that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
- living being
- living being (with life in the blood)
- the man himself, self, person or individual
- seat of the appetites
- seat of emotions and passions
- activity of mind
- activity of the will
- activity of the character
I kept giving the reasons for the hope that is within me. “Humans are different than animals as we have reasoning. I believe the Bible translators wanted to differentiate humans from animals. They did this by using the word soul to describe man, but they intended it to be a mortal soul, not an immortal soul!”
“But we know our souls go to heaven when we die.” My friends contended.
“Our souls are mortal. We don’t gain immortality until Jesus returns. To be in heaven we would have to be immortal. Where did you get the idea that humans have an immortal soul?” I pushed my point.
“The Bible tells us so.” They declared.
“Yes, it does.” I agreed. “The passage is recorded along with the original sin. It’s the original lie, Satan told Eve. Mankind has believed it ever since. That’s why virtually every society in the world has an afterlife belief, regardless of religion. If the belief came from God and the Bible, others would have their own ideas. Everyone having a similar belief suggests a common source. That source was Satan. The father of lies.”
Genesis 3:3-5 King James Version (KJV)
3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
“The story of Lazarus and the rich man.” Came a reply. “And what about the thief on the cross? He was told he would be with Jesus the same day he died! They tell us we will be in heaven. They go against your ideas.”
“True, at first glance they appear to.” I admitted. “But if you look deeper into those examples you may find some doubt. For example, when you read about the thief on the cross in an original Greek translation you’ll find there’s no punctuation.
ΚΑΤΑ ΛΟΥΚΑΝ 23:43 SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT)
43 καὶ εἶπεν [a]αὐτῷ· Ἀμήν [b]σοι λέγω σήμερον μετ’ ἐμοῦ ἔσῃ ἐν τῷ παραδείσῳ.
But most Bibles translate it this way.” I explain.
Luke 23:43 New International Version (NIV)
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“They add punctuation. When you’re already convinced humans have an immortal soul, their translation makes sense. Moving the comma to the right by one word, better coincides with what the Bible tells us about our mortality. It should read; ‘Truly I tell you today, you will be with me in paradise’.”
“Maybe, but that doesn’t explain away the clear teaching of Lazarus being in Abrahams bosom and the rich man in torment. That’s clearly describing heaven and hell.” Came a strong insertion.
“That story told by Jesus is a parable. We’re told by scholars, it’s within the classic style of storytelling. Rather than being an explanation of heaven and hell, the meaning is revealed at the end, Abraham tells the rich man, his brothers wouldn’t believe someone who returned from the dead if they wouldn’t believe Moses and the prophets. Foretelling the Jewish leader’s response to the resurrection of Jesus’s friend, also named Lazarus.” I continued to explain my perspective on the Bible passages.
As in most conversations, I thought about another point at the time, but didn’t get the opportunity to present it as the conversation took another direction. I will add it here, as this is after all, my story and I think it’s relative to the discussion.
If the parable is meant to be a literal description of heaven and hell, then Abraham is there in some leadership capacity. He is alive and conscious in heaven right now, as my friends contend all dead Christians are. I find this belief to be in contradiction to Hebrews 11, where it tells us all believers will be made perfect at the same time. As the Bible has told us, this will happen at the return of Jesus.
Hebrews 11:39-40 Amplified Bible (AMP)
39 And all of these, though they gained [divine] approval through their faith, did not receive [the fulfillment of] what was promised, 40 because God had us in mind and had something better for us, so that they [these men and women of authentic faith] would not be made perfect [that is, completed in Him] apart from us.
If Abraham needs to wait for us all to be made perfect at the same time, he couldn’t be glorified in heaven already, let alone Lazarus. We are told the dead know nothing and don’t praise God.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 Living Bible (TLB)
5 For the living at least know that they will die! But the dead know nothing ; they don’t even have their memories.[a]
Psalm 6:5 New International Version (NIV)
5 Among the dead no one proclaims your name.
Who praises you from the grave?
Isaiah 38:18-19 King James Version (KJV)
18 For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.
19 The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth
Psalm 115:17 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
17 Dead people do not praise the Lord.
Those in the grave are silent.
This is the point I would have made and some of the scriptures I would have used to defend it. Now, back to my recollections of that night.
“Well then what do you think happens? Do you think all Christians have to wait until after the rapture to be made perfect? That would make you post trib.” They speculated.
“Actually, I believe in what the word rapture means, to be caught up, but not all the beliefs people associate with it.” I said.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Well for example, supporters of the rapture doctrine use the scriptures that talk about one being taken and one left behind as support for their belief.”
“Ya. That’s what those scriptures tell us, why shouldn’t they be used to support the rapture doctrine?”
“The stories they use to describe the end time, are the stories of Noah and the flood, and Lot in Sodom and Gomorra. When you read those accounts, who was taken away in the flood and who was left behind?”
“The evil people were taken away in the flood, leaving Noah and his family alive in the ark.” Came the reply.
“And what about Lot, in Sodom and Gomorra?” I again questioned.
“Lot was left behind. Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed by God, killing all the inhabitants.” The answer was given with a puzzled tone.
“Exactly!” I stressed. “In the stories used to describe the return of Jesus the evil ones were taken, and the Godly ones left behind. Opposite to what the rapture doctrine tells us will happen. If the Bible stories are correct, I want to be left behind with the righteous. Those stories tell us the return of Jesus will take people by surprise. Not that Jesus is going to secretly whisk Christians away.”
The Day and Hour Unknown
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[b] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
Luke 17:26-37 King James Version (KJV)
26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;
29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.
30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.
31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.
32 Remember Lot’s wife.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
34 I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
35 Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
36 Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
“So what do you think will happen to Christians who are alive when Jesus returns?” They queried. “How does the return of Jesus play out?”
“Like the Bible has told us. At the return of Jesus every eye will see him, he will come with the sound of the trumpets, as King of Kings to rule the earth. This is the physical beginning of the Kingdom we should be proclaiming. This is also when the dead in Christ are resurrected back to new life, followed by those who are alive. We’re all resurrected into our new spiritual bodies, together at the same event.”
1 John 3:2 Modern English Version (MEV)
2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
“Then Jesus comes down to earth with us and destroys the armies of the Beast and false prophet. Satin is bound in chains during the millennium, while the world is restored by those left alive after the worlds armies are defeated. The newly resurrected Christians will be ruling over these people with Jesus, as Kings and Priests.”
Revelation 5:10 King James Version (KJV)
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
“After the Millennium is over, there is a second resurrection were everyone who hasn’t been call to Jesus by God will get an opportunity to live a life time and decide if they want to follow Jesus or not.” I hit the highlights, summarizing a lot of future events.
Revelation 20:5 King James Version (KJV)
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Isaiah 65:20 English Standard Version (ESV)
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
“What do you mean. That would give everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus now a second chance!” Came the reply.
“No, this will be their first chance to accept Jesus. Their eyes were blinded during their first life, they had no chance, for whatever reason they weren’t called by God. This will be their first chance to know Jesus, but their second life.”
“They have no excuse for not knowing there is a God, nature displays him.” My friends pointed out.
Romans 1:20 Living Bible (TLB)
20 Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.[a]
“They have no excuse for not knowing there is a God, but they can only be saved through Jesus and knowing him.” I countered. “There is only one way to salvation, and it’s through Jesus. All the young children who have died before they could understand about Jesus, when did they get their chance to accept him?” I asked sincerely.
“Babies get a special pass to heaven because of their age.” Came the explanation.
“Oh.” I replied. “I’ve never found that in my Bible. Mine tells me, all must accept Jesus to gain salvation. Is there now two ways to receive salvation? Do the babies stay immature for eternity or do their minds mature?”
“Don’t know.” Came the reply. “Never gave it much thought. But it would only make sense they would grow into mature beings.”
“I agree with you. Keeping them at an infantile maturity level doesn’t seem very loving.” I speculated. “Even though we may think it best for them to be with God for all eternity, they might not. God could be keeping them in heaven as prisoners, against their will. The Angels lived with God, yet a third of them rejected him. Why should the odds be better for the infants of humanity? I believe God will respect our free moral agency by letting us reject him.”
“Your saying sinners don’t get punished for living sinful lives! That they get a second chance at salvation.” The reply was passionate.
“No. God has made a way for everyone to be able to freely accept the salvation of Jesus, no matter where or when they lived, or for how long. God want’s everyone to accept Jesus and be his child. That’s the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Salvation has come to save all of humanity. Not just those born after the crucifixion of Jesus.”
“I have a hard time accepting that. Sinners have to be punished in hell. They can’t get off scot free!”
“They are punished. Those who choose not to accept Jesus will be thrown into the lake of fire. Hell. And they will die there. They are never resurrected into immortal bodies that can’t die. This is the third and final resurrection. The resurrection of the cursed. The second death.”
Revelation 21:8 New Life Version (NLV)
8 But those who are afraid and those who do not have faith and the sinful-minded people and those who kill other people and those who do sex sins and those who follow witchcraft and those who worship false gods and all those who tell lies will be put into the lake of fire and sulphur. This is the second death.”
“No, that’s not good enough. Sinners need to be punished for their sins. They can’t get away by just dying! Death is too good for them. God will punish them forever in the fires of hell.” The belief was stated as fact.
“Their punishment will last forever, but it’s not eternal punishing. They will never have life again, so their punishment of death will last eternally. They don’t gain eternal life unless they accept Jesus, which would put them in the Kingdom as forgiven children of God, not in hell being tortured forever. Satin and the demons are immortal, they can’t die. They will be punished eternally in the lake of fire for their sins” I reply passionately.
“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Malachi 4:1-3 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
4 “That time of judgment is coming. It will be like a hot furnace. All the proud people will be punished. All the evil people will burn like straw. At that time they will be like a bush burning in the fire, and there will not be a branch or root left.” This is what the Lord All-Powerful said.
2 “But, for my followers, goodness will shine on you like the rising sun. And it will bring healing power like the sun’s rays. You will be free and happy, like calves freed from their stalls.[a] 3 Then you will walk on the evil people—they will be like ashes under your feet. I will make this happen at the time of judgment.” This is what the Lord All-Powerful said.
“After this final judgement and resurrection, God comes to dwell with his children, dwelling with them fore ever.” I said, suppressing a yawn.
“I can’t accept that. God will punish the wicked for their sins eternally. They will never get out of punishment through death. That would be too easy for them.” Was my friend’s closing comment.
By this time, it was late, and our conversations and my explanations had come to an end. It was time for bed and the topic was left for another occasion. But in the following days I couldn’t help but go over that night’s conversations in my head. What bothers me most was their thought that death was too good for the sinful people who reject Jesus and the belief that God would keep them alive in eternal torment and punishing. This doesn’t match my knowledge of our loving Father and God, who I look forward to spending eternity with. After all, what kind of a sick mind would torture a dog for not doing what it had no knowledge of, let alone a person? A mind like that lacks compassionate love and is shunned as demented.
As the father of lies, Satan infected humanity with a carefully crafted original lie; ‘Ye shall not surely die’. He knew it would lead us far from God’s plan of salvation, as well as mislead us about the true loving nature of our heavenly father. Humane Societies reflect the compassionate love of God by defending those who cannot defend themselves. By adhering to the immortal soul doctrine, most Christians unwittingly attribute the mind of a sadistic psychopath to their God and loving heavenly father.