Annihilationism or non-existence is the teaching that the unsaved will simply cease to exist. It is the belief that unbelievers will be “wiped out” or “annihilated” sometime after death. In other words, unbelievers will not experience eternal punishment in a literal hell, but will somehow simply vanish (or have their souls extinguished) instead.
Those who believe and teach that when we die we just stop existing are wrong. Biblically, this is cannot true. According to Scripture we continue after death. But, if we stop existing we will never know it. Therefore, the only thing we could “know” after death is if we continue. Is it worth taking a chance on eternity in the afterlife by hoping you don’t exist anymore? It’s a huge risk to take. Consider the following verses, Luke 16:19-31:
“Now there was a certain rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, gaily living in splendor every day. And a certain poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. “Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.
And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue; for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, in order that those who wish to come over from here to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’
And he said, ‘Then I beg you, Father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may warn them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ “But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.'”
The Bible clearly teaches that hell (Hades) and the lake of fire are real. Hell is like a holding place for the unsaved until the Great White Throne Judgment when they will have to face the Lord and give an accounting for the their lives. After the judgment they will be cast into the lake f fire forever as Scripture teaches. There will be no chance of escape:
“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).
“And a second time they said, ‘Hallelujah!’ Her smoke rises up forever and ever ” (Revelation 19:3).
“And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Jesus died an agonizing death so mankind could be saved from eternal damnation. His death sacrifice paid the penalty for our sins so we could choose to accept Him for who He said He is, and also to keep us from an eternity of torment. You cannot eternally punish someone who has no existence. Eternal punishment only works when the person is in existence.
Those who teach annihilation are rejecting what the Word of God clearly states about hell. The Bible is the final authority on the matter of eternal damnation, not confused men who create their own doctrines.
1. http://carm.org/is-annihilation-true 2. http://www.the-highway.com/annihilationism_Packer.html