Question:

Is Luke 16:19-31 another parable in the series of the chapter?

Does I Timothy 6:16 mean that we are not immortal?

I ask because conditionalism looks very attractive, especially after reading Al Maxey's reflections.  But I have some doubts about it because if hell is not eternal, can we expect heaven to be? Also if people are tormented in hell for a while, shouldn't they go to heaven after paying for their sin through torment?

Answer:

Conditionalism is the idea that people do not have an immortal spirit; rather, God gives people whom He saves the ability to live eternally. The philosophy also teaches that the wicked are destroyed and will cease to exist.

Regarding Luke 16:19-31:

The story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a well-known illustration of Jesus. Through it, we learn about what life after death is like. At times you will find some who dismiss the significance of the story by stating that it is only a parable. However, it is not called a parable in the Scriptures and it contains one feature that makes it different from the parables that Jesus told: this story names one of the main characters. In Jesus’ parables, an illustration is given from life, but the illustrations are generalized. They are something that could easily happen, but Jesus is not talking about one particular event. In the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, details are given about a particular event. Even if this was a generalized tale, it doesn’t mean the things discussed are not true or only imaginary. All other parables are based on real events. Labeling this story a parable does not make it any less real.

Regarding I Timothy 6:18-19:

"Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed" (I Timothy 6:18-19).

Some manuscripts have "eternal life" and others have what is "really life." The difference is not critical to our understanding. Doing the works of God allows the righteous person to gain heaven. Heaven is repeatedly called "eternal life" while Hell is sometimes called "eternal punishment" (Matthew 25:46). The point is not that people become immortal, but which type of eternal existence are they striving for. See What Is Hell Like?.

Punishment doesn't pay for sin. It is the consequence of sinning (Romans 6:23). You don't have less sin because you are punished. You only can have your sins removed or forgiven and that can only occur through the sacrifice of Jesus.

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