"Without believing in an aware spirit, how can a person believe hell is permanent?"
Or eternal, since that's the word the bible uses. Hell is eternal. The lake of fire is the second death, which is eternal death. No one is coming back after the second death like they do after the first. The first death is temporary because everyone will be resurrected after the first death. The second death, is eternal, no resurrection after that. No more opportunity to plead with God about how good you were so you can escape hell and have eternal life, "But Lord, Lord, I did all these things in your name.....".
So there is a difference between the first and second death. The first death is temporary, like sleep, the second death is eternal, you are never waking up again.
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Those who can kill the body (or cause you to die the first death). If someone kills a believer in Christ, so what? We don't need to fear being killed as Christians because we will live again!
But if God destroys both your body and soul in hell, or the lake of fire, that's the second death. No one lives again after the second death. It's eternal.
I listened to a debate last night between Dr. Al Mohler, don't know if any of you know who he is, and Chris Date, who believes the same hell view I do. Al Mohler believes the traditional hell view. Several times in the beginning of the debate Al Mohler kept saying Chris's view means hell is temporary. And Chris would say, "no, my view of hell is that it is absolutely eternal. It's the nature of hell we are discussing, not whether it's eternal or temporary". Is hell a place of eternal torment, or is it a place of eternal death?
Over and over the bible contrasts eternal life for those in Christ with eternal death, for those not in Christ. Death vs. life. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Christ, we receive the gift of immortality. Without Christ, we remain mortal. Nowhere in the bible, as I've argued many times on here, is immortality said to be given to unbelievers. Nowhere in the bible, does it say unbelievers have immortal souls. And no one here has yet been able to disprove that through scripture.
What does immortality mean?:
110 athanasía (from 1 /A "without" and 2288 /thánatos, "death") – properly, immortality (literally "without death, deathlessness"), referring to the unique glorification awarded to each believer by the Lord at His return (1 Cor 15:53,54). http://biblehub.com/greek/110.htm
Life vs. Death, Immortality vs. mortality, imperishable vs. perishable
20 The soul who sins shall die. (which means the soul is not immortal outside of Christ)
What is the wages of sin again? Death not eternal torment.
How can we escape the wages of sin? Through faith in Christ who died for our sins. Did Christ who died for our sins, who took the punishment for our sins, go to hell to be tormented forever? If he paid the debt for us, the wages of sin, and if the wages of sin is eternal torment, then he didn't pay the debt, because he was not eternally tormented. But the wages of sin is death, and he died. Now death could not hold Him, because he is God. He is immortal. But death can hold those who are not God, who are not immortal.
But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
Rethink the traditional hell view people. Tradition doesn't mean it's correct. Al Molher, who is a very intelligent guy, kept saying, "but tradition, tradition,". Gonna have to get more substance than that.
We all know there are a few select verses in the scriptures which seem to be saying that hell is some kind of eternal torment. Most of them are in Revelation, which is a highly symbolic book, meaning the visions are not to be taken in a totally literal sense. The beast doesn't literally have seven heads, etc.
Chris Date said he became more and more convinced of the conditional hell view, which I just described above, when he realized that even the very best scriptural support for the traditional hell view actually much more supports the conditional view of hell when you dig a little deeper and don't just take those select scriptures at face value. There are answers to all the typical verses we've all heard for a lifetime which supposedly support the traditional view.