Ligonier Ministries is the bible-teaching ministry of Dr. R. C. Sproul. It contains a cornucopia of resources whether video, audio, or written. Dr. Sproul’s ministry has attracted a variety of pastor-scholars with similar convictions like him from different streams of the church. The excerpt below is from an article contributed to Ligonier Ministries by Dr. Robert A. Peterson. The subject deals with what happens to men and women after the final judgment, which occurs at some point in the future. When it comes to the study of last things or eschatology, it behooves us to tread cautiously and responsibly with the scripture texts.
I believe that Dr. Peterson offers an honest assessment of a view known as Annihilationism. This view asserts that the bodies and souls of the unjust or unsaved cease to exist in the “lake of fire” or hell. Annihilationism is on rise within the evangelical church, and I agree with Dr. Peterson that this view redefines the biblical narrative. I recommend reading his piece for a few reasons: 1.) it is an example of how to disagree with one’s opponent with dignity; 2.) this piece accurately represents the Annihilationist view while exposing its serious flaws; and 3.) this piece drives one back to the word and the Spirit for personal study on these matters.
“The Bible’s story does not end by saying, “And the unrighteous were destroyed and exist no more.” Neither does it say, “And in the end all persons will be gathered into the love of God and be saved.” Rather, when God brings His story to a close, His people rejoice in endless bliss with Him on the new earth. But the wicked will endure never-ending torment in the lake of fire and be shut out of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the joyous dwelling place of God and His people forever.
We have no right to rewrite the biblical story. Rather, we must leave it to God to define what is just and unjust and what is commensurate with His being “all in all.” He does not leave us in doubt about hell because He loves sinners and wants them to believe the gospel in this life.
How kind and merciful of Him to include this invitation at the end of His story: “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev. 22:17). All who trust Jesus in His death and resurrection to rescue them from hell will have a part in the Tree of Life and the Holy City of God. All who do so with all the saints can say now and will say forever:
‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just.'” (19:1–2)