frequently thought of, and portrayed, as a blazing inferno manned by
the devil himself. Is the devil really in charge of hell? Did God
create the devil to be the overlord of hell? Is hell in the center
of the earth, on some planet in the outer reaches of the universe,
or somewhere else? Are there souls writhing in anguish there right
now? What are the clear Bible facts on Hell?
God of Love
There is a
fundamental truth that needs to be kept foremost in our minds with
whatever it is that we may be studying. This is found in I John
4:8,16, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love….
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is
love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in
him." John, dwelling upon his favorite theme, tells us
unequivocally that God is love. God equals love. Everything that is
true about love is true about God, for God is love. Everything that
God has done, is doing or will do is because He loves us "with
an everlasting love" (Jeremiah 31:3).
glance at His dealings with mankind is sufficient to show us that
everything that He does is because He loves us. God created a
perfect, beautiful world because He loves us and wants us to be
happy. When man fell, God provided a ransom, an escape through His
own Son, Jesus. He commanded an ark to be built so that in His love
He could save the faithful and still slow down the increase of sin.
He called Abraham to another country because of His love. He has
given us the Bible to study from because in His love, He wants to
communicate with us. He has given us the Law of love, knowing that
if we keep it we will be happier. He has sent Jesus to die for us
and take our place that we might be reconciled to Him. Jesus has
promised that He is coming back because He loves us and wants us to
be with Him. Yes, there is no doubt that absolutely everything God
does is because of His great love and mercy for us. In the 136th
Psalm this is reiterated again and again. In each of the twenty-six
verses is repeated, "for His mercy endureth for ever." In
all of God's dealings with man, His love and mercy are exemplified.
This is also true with the subject of hell. God's love must clearly
be seen in the punishment of the wicked, or else it would not be
true that God is indeed a God of love.
possible, though, to take this to an extreme. There are some that
have told me that since God is love, He will not punish the wicked,
that God's love would not do such a thing. This stems from a false
belief of what true love is. God's love is not the false sentimental
feeling that is in the world today, but God's love is a firm
principle. Even though God is a God of love, He is also just.
"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His
throne." Psalms 97:2. "For all His ways are justice, a God
of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He."
Deuteronomy 32:4. Justice is the foundation of His throne and there
is no injustice in Him. God still must be just even though He is a
God of love. It is only through Jesus' sacrifice that He can be,
"just and the justifier of the one who has faith in
Jesus." Romans 3:26. Justification comes only to the one who
has faith in Jesus, and for those who refuse to fully accept and
believe on Jesus, God can do no more. He has given all heaven in the
gift of His Son, and if we are unwilling to follow Him, the only
thing that can remain is, "a certain fearful expectation of
judgment." Hebrews 10:27. "The Lord is longsuffering and
abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by
no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on
the children to the third and fourth generation." Numbers
14:18. The Lord is unquestionably longsuffering, merciful, full of
love. Although He is all of these things, it is impossible for Him
to forgive the unrepentant guilty. It would be inconsistent with the
principles of His throne and government. He bears long with the
children of men, calling them to repentance, but once His limit of
love is reached, there is no other option but to execute judgment.
And how true it is, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God." For He says, "Vengeance is Mine,
I will repay," Hebrews 10:31, 30. There is no question about
it, God is love, but His love will not excuse and pass over those
who have rejected our Saviour.
Hell Going on Right Now?
gives us the answer, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of
His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will
separate them one from another as a shepherd divides his sheep from
the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the
goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right
hand, 'Come you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared
for you from the foundation of the world:… Then He will also say
to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed into the
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:… And these
will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into
eternal life." Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46. Jesus is showing the
separation that will occur at the Second Coming, and in so doing He
answers very plainly that hell is not going on right now. It is not
until He comes in His glory and sits on the throne of His glory that
the righteous are rewarded and the wicked are punished. This
obviously cannot be now, for He is on the throne of grace now. (See
At present no
one is suffering from the flames of this fire. "And the angels
who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation,
He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the
judgment of the great day;" Jude 6. "The Lord knoweth how
to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust
unto the day of judgment to be punished." II Peter 2:9 KJV.
"But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word
are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day judgment and
perdition of ungodly men." II Pet. 3:7. Obviously from these
verses none have been punished, not even the fallen angels are being
punished right now. The fallen angels, the unjust, and the ungodly
are all being reserved until the day of judgment and perdition.
All upon this
earth who have died, are now sleeping in the graves until their
respective resurrection. (For a detailed study on this subject see
Steps to Life's booklet, The Race to Contact the Dead.)
Jesus said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in
which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come
forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and
those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
John 5:28, 29. It is not until the resurrection of condemnation that
the wicked come forward to receive their punishment. "And many
of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to
everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel
12:2. Those who awake at the first resurrection, the resurrection of
life, will receive everlasting life, but those who awake at the
second resurrection, the resurrection of condemnation, will receive
shame and everlasting contempt. It only takes common sense to tell
us that the wicked will not receive their punishment until this
resurrection of condemnation, and since that has not happened yet,
hell cannot be going on right now.
were going on right now with the unrighteous souls soaring to a
burning spirit world, this would be a mockery of God's justice. Just
think of the person who lived five thousand years ago. He was a very
good person and all who knew him really loved him, but tragically
there was just one little thing in his life that he loved more than
God. He just could not seem to give up that one thing. God gave him
chances, but still he clung to this cherished idol. For this one
thing in his life, that he valued more than Heaven, he lost his
soul. (One thing is enough to bar us from eternal life. Jesus said
to the rich young ruler who went away sorrowful, "One thing you
lack." Mark 10:17-22.) If hell were going on now, and a person
went directly to hell at death, he would be burning for thousands of
years. Then along comes a man like Adolph Hitler, a man responsible
for the death of millions of innocent people, at his death he went
to hell as well. That would mean that the man who only lacked one
thing would be burning for five thousand years longer than one of
the wickedest men who has ever lived. Is that justice? Absolutely
not! God in his justice and mercy has not set up hell like that.
Hell is not, and cannot be, going on now, for the wicked are not
rewarded until after the second resurrection.
perfectly into God's great plan of justice. We know from Scripture
that, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body,
according to what he has done, whether good or bad." II
Corinthians 5:10. There is not one exempted from this judgment.
Would it be fair to punish someone before they were judged?
Absolutely not! That would be one of the most unjust things that
could ever happen, and so God has ordained that the wicked are not
punished until after they are judged. (See Revelation 20:11-15)
Since this judgment of the wicked is still to come [Acts 24:25]
there is no way that the wicked could be experiencing the pains of
hell right now. It is not until after the resurrection of the unjust
[Acts 24:15] and the judgment that the wicked will be punished for
shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have
transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire
is not quenched, they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh."
Isaiah 66:24. The very last verse in Isaiah tells us that the
righteous will go and look upon the wicked. Hell then has to be some
place where the righteous will be able to see burning. This means
that it could not be in the center of the earth, for there are no
fireproof elevators to take a person down to look upon hell, then
bring them back up again.
and earth are now being preserved until that time. "But the
heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are
reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly
men. II Peter 3:7. The present heaven and earth are what is being
reserved until the judgment day when this earth is cleansed by the
unquenchable fires. Isaiah saw the same thing happening. "For
it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, the year of recompense for
the cause of Zion. It streams shall be turned into pitch, and its
dust into brimstone; its land shall become burning pitch."
Isaiah 34:8, 9. Even the very streams and dust became a
conflagration. Everything on this old earth bursts into flames and
becomes a lake of fire.
By putting all
these verses together the only conclusion that we can come to is
that the fires of hell will actually be right here on this old
earth. "They went up on the breadth of the earth
and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them."
At the second resurrection, all of the wicked are raised, (verse 5)
the devil deceives them to make a final desperate attack upon the
holy city, (verses 7, 8) the final, great white throne judgment
takes place, (vs. 11-13) and God ends the sin problem by raining
down fire from heaven (verse 9, 14, 15). The shower of fire is so
strong that the entire earth becomes a "lake of fire and
brimstone." (verse 10) During this time, the righteous are
preserved safely in the Holy City, just as Noah and his family were
saved inside the ark. It is here on the battleground of the great
controversy that sin will eventually be done away with. God has not
created a place in the outer reaches of the universe to be a holding
tank for sin, He is going to destroy it right here at the center of
Long will the Wicked Suffer?
answer to this is not given in the Bible, but we do know that each
one is going to suffer according to his works. "Who 'will
render to each one according to his deeds Romans 2:6. Since God is a
fair and just God, it only makes sense that each person will be
rewarded according to the amount of light that they have had, and
the use that they have made of that light. Jesus told a parable that
teaches us this same thing. "The master of that servant will
come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he
is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion
with the unbelievers. And that servant who knew his master's will,
and did not prepare himself, or do according to his will, shall be
beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed
things deserving of stripes shall be beaten with few. For everyone
to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom
much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Luke
12:46-48. All who have rejected light and done despite to the spirit
of grace will be punished for the "wages of sin is death."
Romans 6:23. But there are those who are less guilty than others. In
our justice system today there are degrees of punishment. The
instigator of the crime receives a much heavier sentence than the
one that reluctantly assisted. In God's great judgment, all factors
are likewise taken into consideration. There are some that have not
had the opportunities and privileges that others have had. God will
not require as much from them. In Jesus own words, "It shall be
more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for
you." Matthew 11:24. Jesus did not say that Sodom would be
acquitted of all its great wickedness. All that have continued to
break God's Holy Law will have a fearful account to render and in
the end will receive the due punishment. But he did say that it was
going to be better for Sodom than for the cities where a large
portion of His ministry had been spent. Capernaum had the
"light of the world" in their midst walking and working
miracles among them, but still they refused to repent. Their
privileges were much higher than Sodom's and still they continued on
the path of destruction. There is no doubt their punishment will be
much more severe, for much was given to them, but they did not
appreciate and accept the greater light. All who have turned their
backs upon divine mercy will suffer the vengeance of hellfire, but
some are going to suffer longer than others, and no doubt the devil
will burn the longest of all.
Example of Eternal Fire
will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you
cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his
angels&' And these will go away into everlasting judgment, but
the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:41, 46. Clearly
the unrighteous will receive their punishment of everlasting fire.
The Bible repeatedly describes hell using such terms as everlasting
fire, unquenchable fire, forever and ever, etc. This has led many to
conclude that hellfire will go on for the ceaseless ages of
eternity, that the wicked will constantly be writhing in pain for
billions and billions of years. It is true that at first glance the
terms used to describe hell can appear to mean this, but we must go
deeper than just the surface to find the true meaning of God's Word.
In the Bible,
we are given an example of what hell will be like. "As Sodom
and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to
these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone
after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the
vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 7. God has frequently taught
us what future events will be like by giving an example which
occurred during the old covenant. Hellfire is just one example of
this. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the book of Genesis, is not
just an historical story, but an example of what will be in the
future as well. We are told that Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth as
an example of eternal fire. The story is a familiar one; because of
the great wickedness of the cities in the plain, God "rained
brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the
heavens." Genesis 19:24. We are told that this was
"eternal fire," but are Sodom and Gomorrah still burning
today? Of course not Everyone knows that the fires of Sodom and
Gomorrah have gone out years ago. You cannot visit a site in the
Middle East and have the tour guide tell you that it is the
eternally burning fires of Sodom and Gomorrah. We don't know exactly
how long the fires burnt, but we do know that they finally went out.
How then could it be eternal fire? The results were eternal. Never
again have the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah been rebuilt. It was an
eternally consuming fire. It consumed every last object and then,
when there was nothing more to burn, the fires went out. "And
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them
to destruction, making then an example to those who afterward would
live ungodly;" II Peter 2:6. Peter adds the detail that Sodom
and Gomorrah were turned into ashes. Ashes according the Webster's
New World Dictionary is defined as, "the substance
remaining after a thing has been burned." Ashes do not burn.
Ashes are what is leftover after something has already been burned.
It can clearly be seen from the Bible that Sodom and Gomorrah are
not still burning, but that "God destroyed the cities of the
plain." Genesis 19:29. Since Sodom and Gomorrah are an example
of eternal fire, we can know that the eternal fires of hellfire
will, likewise, not continue for the billions of years of eternity.
out the Bible hellfire is described as a consuming, devouring fire.
"You shall make them as a fiery oven in the time of Your anger;
The Lord shall swallow them up in His wrath, and the fire shall devour
them." Psalms 21:9. "Our God shall come, and shall not
keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it
shall be very tempestuous all around Him." Psalms 50:3. "A
fire goes before Him, and burns up His enemies
round about." Psalms 97:3 "But a certain fearful
expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour
the adversaries." Hebrews 10:27. "They went up on the
breadth of the earth and surround the camp of the saints and the
beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured
them." Revelation 20:9. The fire and judgment that burns the
wicked is described as a devouring, consuming fire that burns up the
wicked. If something is devoured, it obviously isn't burning for
ages. If something is consumed and burned up, it will not continue
to burn, and this is actually the purpose of fire, to burn and
devour what it is consuming. (See Judges 9:15, 20; Isaiah 9:18;
10:17; 33:11; Hosea 8:14; Amos 1:4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5; 5:6;
Nahum 3:13; Zechariah 11:1: 2:6.) And thus, as with Sodom and
Gomorrah, hellfire will consume and devour all that is to be
consumed, and then it will go out.
God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29. The Lord whom we serve
is described as a consuming fire. Sin is going to be consumed from
His presence. He is holy and only holy beings can stand before Him.
[Hebrews 12:14] We are either going to allow Him to consume the sin
from our lives now, or if we cling to sin, we are going to be
consumed by the fires of the last days.
these will go away into everlasting punishment, but he righteous
into eternal life." Matthew 25:46. Jesus said that the devil,
his angels and the wicked were going to experience punishment.
Notice it didn't say everlasting punishing; it says everlasting
punishment. There is a difference. Everlasting punishing would be
punishing that goes on and on, while everlasting punishment is
punishment that does not last forever. That is, the results of the
punishment are everlasting, not necessarily the punishing itself.
Paul gives us more explanation on the subject. "In flaming fire
taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do
not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be
punished with everlasting destruction from the
presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." II
Thessalonians 1:8, 9. The punishment of destruction is what is
everlasting, not the punishing of fire. The fire does its work and
brings the result of everlasting destruction.
there are verses that come to our mind that make us wonder about
what we have just started to discover. Doesn't the Bible say that it
will be unquenchable fire, and if the fire is unquenchable how could
it devour and go out as Sodom and Gomorrah did? Yes, the Bible does
say "fire that shall never be quenched," Mark 9:43, but
once again, what does that mean?
Again there is
an example as to what unquenchable fire is. "But if you will
not heed Me to hallow the Sabbath day, such as not carrying a burden
when entering the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day, then I will
kindle a fire in its gates, and it shall devour the palaces of
Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched. Jeremiah 17:27. The Lord
had threatened Jerusalem, that if they refused to hallow the
Sabbath, God's holy day, God's judgments would be poured upon it.
The judgment threatened was that it would be burned with fire that
was not going to be quenched. Once again that is the same wording as
used to describe hell. [Isaiah 66:24; Mark 9:42-48]. Tragically,
Jerusalem did continue to disregard the Sabbath and the rest of
God's Law and it was burnt with fire. "But they mocked the
messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets,
until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was
no remedy….Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall
of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all
its precious possessions." II Chronicles 36:16, 19. Jerusalem
was indeed burned with unquenchable fire when the Chaldeans
destroyed the city and carried away the captives. Any geography or
history student knows that Jerusalem is not still burning today.
Just because it was called unquenchable fire does not mean that it
was going to burn for billions upon billions of years. It simply
meant that there was no one that would be able to quench, or put out
the fire. It didn't matter how hard the Jews or anyone tried, it was
not going to be put out. You could have called all of the fire
trucks and firemen in the world, but they would not have been able
to put it out. God had decreed that it was going to be unquenchable
fire--no one was going to be able to put it out, but once it had
done its work and devoured, as fires always do, it was going to turn
to ashes and go out.
about another fire that was not going to be quenched. "And say
to the forest of the South, 'Hear the word of the Lord! Thus says
the Lord God: Behold I will kindle a fire in you, and it shall
devour every green tree and every dry tree in you; the blazing flame
shall not be quenched, and all faces from the south to the north
shall be scorched by it. All flesh shall see that I, the Lord, have
kindled it; it shall not be quenched.'" Ezekiel 20:47, 48. This
prophecy given four or five years before Jerusalem was destroyed is
probably referring to the forest of the South as the land of Judah.
Once again it tells us that the fire will not be quenched, but it
gives us more detail about unquenchable fire. He tells us that both
the green and the dry trees are going to be devoured. Green trees do
not usually burn very well, but not so in this fire. Everything was
going to be consumed, whether it was normally combustible or not, it
was all going to be devoured. The fire was going to be so consuming
that all were going to know that the Lord was the one who had
kindled it. So it shall be with the unquenchable fires of the last
days. It will be known by all that it is the Lord's doing and no one
will be able to extinguish that fire. It will burn everything,
whether it is normally combustible or not. It will do the work for
which it was prepared--to devour. Once everything is devoured and
there is nothing left to burn, though, it will go out, for there
will be no more reason for it to continue.
smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and they have no
rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever
receives the mark of his name." Revelation 14:11. We must
remember that we use figures of speech in our language today and
that there are figures of speech in the Bible as well. If someone
said, "he really got out of bed on the wrong side today,"
we would know that he was in a bad mood, not that it literally
mattered what side of the bed he got out on. If we said that it was
raining cats and dogs, and then literally interpreted that into
another language, it would greatly surprise our foreign friend; but
we would know that it only meant that it was raining very, very
hard. It is the same way with the terms "eternal fire,"
"everlasting fire," "forever and ever." To the
Hebrew mind it is simply a figure of speech, not to be taken
absolutely literally, that there will never be an end to the fires.
Forever, in the Bible, can mean as long as a person is alive. We can
see this illustrated in a couple of Old Testament passages.
"Then his master shall bring him to the judges. He shall also
bring him to the door, or to the doorpost, and his master shall
pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him forever."
Exodus 21:6. "But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her
husband, 'I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will
take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there
forever…. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as
he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.' So they worshiped the Lord
there." I Samuel 1:22, 28. We see two clear examples in which
forever simply meant as long as the person lived. The slave
obviously could not serve his master after he had died, but it was
still said that he would serve him forever. Hannah said that Samuel
would serve in the temple forever, but then again she says that he
would serve the Lord as long as he lived. "Forever" in the
Bible can simply be a figure of speech meaning as long as a person
lives. We even use this in our language today. If we are on a long
trip, we might say it took us forever to get there. Taking it in its
context we know that it just means it took a long time. The same is
true with the smoke ascending forever. When we compare scripture
with scripture it does not mean that the smoke will endlessly be
ascending, but that it will take a long time and it will continue as
long as there is something for the fire to burn.
Most of the
pagan religions teach that the soul is immortal, and sadly enough
this belief has crept into Christianity. The Bible teaches that God
is the only one who has immortality. "Now to the King eternal,
immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory
forever and ever. Amen." "Which He will manifest in His
own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of
kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in
unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be
honor and everlasting power. Amen." I Timothy 1:17; 6:15,16.
You can read every verse in the Bible and there is not one verse
that intimates that the soul is immortal; it is only God who is
immortal. Man does not receive the gift of immortality until the
Second Coming and then it is only the righteous. (See I Corinthians
Instead of the
Bible teaching an immortal soul, just the opposite is taught.
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as
the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die…. The
soul who sins shall die." Ezekiel 18:4, 20. This is so plain
and unequivocal that there should be no room for controversy. The
soul is not immortal; it can die. The belief that the soul cannot
die was actually the first lie that the devil told, "You will
not surely die." Genesis 3:4. God had said, "You shall
surely die." Genesis 2:17. But tragically, Eve believed the
devil's subtle lie instead of God's plain statement, and many more
have followed her today.
Not only can
the soul die, but Jesus said that both the soul and the body were
going to die in hell. "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." Matthew 10:28. Once again, there
is no room for controversy, it is too plain. The soul does not burn
in anguish for the ceaseless ages of eternity--it is destroyed. If
something is destroyed, it does not continue to exist. God in His
justice cannot let the wicked go unpunished, but God in His mercy
and love is not going to punish the wicked for billions and billions
of years. Both the soul and the body are destroyed.
It has been
asserted that because Jesus said that the worm does not die, the
soul will not die. "And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two
hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be
quenched--where their 'worm does not die and the fire is not
quenched.'" Mark 9:43, 44. Nowhere in the Bible is worm
associated with the soul, and only in a few instances is it referred
to as a human, and there only denoting the contempt that is placed
upon that individual. Jesus is not contradicting Ezekiel or himself,
but is emphasizing the importance of fully overcoming sin and if it
is not overcome, hellfire will be the result. The word translated
hell is actually "gehenna." Gehenna refers to the
"Valley of Hinnom," not far from Jerusalem. Jeremiah
predicted that this valley would be a valley of slaughter where
carcasses would be strewn. [Jeremiah 7:31-34]. According to
rabbinical tradition it became a place for burning of refuse and
carcasses. As Jesus spoke these words, perhaps the smoke was seen
drifting to heaven. It brought a vivid picture to the minds of the
listeners as they associated this valley of destruction with the
punishment of those who continue in sin. If anything escaped the
consuming fires, it was devoured by the worms and maggots. Jesus was
not teaching that the fires would never go out, but rather giving
his hearers a graphic description of the undesirability of hellfire.
The idea that
the soul is immortal and that wicked souls will burn for ages and
ages is, in reality, underplaying the gospel. The most famous of all
verses tells us what we are saved from by believing in Jesus,
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believed in Him should not perish but have everlasting
life." John 3:16. By believing in, and following Jesus we are
saved from perishing. An eternally burning hell is not perishing. If
the damned are writhing in flames for eternity; they really have
eternal life! Granted it is not a pleasant eternal life, but it is
still eternal life none-the-less. "For the wages of sin is
death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23. By accepting Jesus we receive eternal life. Eternal
life is not something that we have unless we have truly accepted
Jesus and are following Him. The wicked do not have eternal life,
their lot is death. Is burning for billions of years on end death?
Absolutely not The fires of hellfire consume all of the wicked and
finally bring death and it is this death that is called, "the
second death." Revelation 20:14.
Under Your Feet
behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud,
yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble and the day which is coming
shall burn them up.' Says the Lord of hosts, 'That will leave them
neither root nor branch….You shall trample the wicked for they
shall be ashes under the soles of your feet. On the day that I do
this,' says the Lord of hosts." Malachi 4:1, 3. Malachi tells
us of the coming day when the wicked will be no more. In this world
wickedness can look like it gets the victory, but that will not
always be. The day is coming when those who may have gained the
whole world will be sorry, for they will see that they lost their
own soul. [Mark 8:36]. They will be burnt as stubble and as stubble
does not burn throughout eternity; it ignites, burns hot and goes
out, so it shall be with the wicked. "Behold, they shall be as
stubble, the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves
from the power of the flame; it shall not be a coal to be warmed by,
nor a fire to sit before!" Isaiah 47: 14. For those who have
despised God's grace the end will come. They shall be burnt up. It
will be impossible to deliver themselves. The wisest, wealthiest man
who has been found wanting will not escape. But after the fire has
done its work, every coal will go out. There will not be a flame
left. The fires of hell will go out. The wicked will be turned into
ashes. No trace of the curse of sin will be left, both root and
branch will be destroyed in the devouring flame. That is not saying
that all of the wicked will be consumed in a matter of seconds. The
wicked may burn for minutes, hours, days, months, perhaps even
years. No one knows, but we do know that the fire will eventually
turn everything into ashes and not a coal or flame shall be left.
originator and promulgator of sin himself will be destroyed.
Speaking of the devil, the Word says: "Thou hast defiled thy
sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of
thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of
thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the
earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know
thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a
terror, and never shalt thou be any more." Ezekiel 28:18, 19
KJV. God's Word declares that the fire will devour the devil and
bring him to ashes and that he will never be any more. Praise God!
The devil, that has wrecked havoc upon this world of ours, will
ultimately be destroyed and will never be again. The one who has
caused all the misery and sorrow that is in the world will have to
suffer for all the pain that he has inflicted upon humanity, and
then he will come to his end. If, after meting out the full
punishment of the devil, God brings him to ashes, we can be assured
that the fires will indeed go out. The punishment will be full and
complete, but God will not, as a ruthless tyrant, torture his
enemies for the endless years of eternity.
God has told
us of a time when all evildoers shall be cut off. "But the
descendants of the wicked shall be cut off….When the wicked are
cut off, you shall see it….The future of the wicked shall be cut
off." Psalms 37:28, 34, 38. All sin and sinners will be cut
off. Evildoers may appear to triumph now, but it is only for a time.
The future of all those who love the things of this world is to be
cut off from it forever and the righteous shall see it when it
happens. The wicked may taunt and jeer now, but their day is coming.
They shall be cut off. Even if you try to search for them, you will
not find them for they will be cut off forever. "I have seen
the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a native green
tree. Yet he passed away, and behold, he was no more; indeed I
sought him, but he could not be found." Psalms 37: 35, 36. Why
could he not be found? "But the wicked shall perish; and the
enemies of the Lord, like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.
Into smoke they shall vanish away." Psalms 37:20. Into smoke
the wicked will be consumed. "For evildoers shall be cut off;
but those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For
yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will
look diligently for his place, but it shall be no more." Psalms
37:9,10. A time is coming when wickedness and sin will be no more.
It will not find a place on this earth. The earth will be completely
eradicated from the curse and plague of sin and evil.
One of the
most wonderful of all promises found in God's Word is Nahum 1:9,
"What do you conspire against the Lord? He will make an utter
end of it. Affliction will not rise up a second time." God's
promise to us is that He will win the great controversy in which we
are all players. Not only will He win the battle, but He will make
an utter end. Sin and sinners will be no more. Every trace and
remembrance of sin will be utterly destroyed and affliction or sin
will not crop up its ugly head again. Once the battle is won,
"it is done." Revelation 21:6. The entire universe will be
free from any stain or spot of sin. Sin and sinners will have been
consumed by the fires of hell. Sinners "shall be as though they
had never been." [Obadiah 16]. They will have died the
"second death" [Revelation 20:14] to which there is no
resurrection. It will be as it was before they were born. (cf. Job
10:18, 19) They knew of nothing and knew nothing at all. There are
no emotions, thoughts or feelings. It is simply an endless,
unconscious sleep to which there is no awakening. The utter end is
this world and wipes away all our sorrows and heartaches. "And
I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the
first earth had passed away….And God will wipe away every tear
from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor
crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have
passed away. Revelation 21:1, 4. This poor earth that has been
defiled by sin for over six thousand years becomes a fiery inferno
in which both sin and sinners are destroyed, and then God
obliterates the remembrance of sin by creating a new heaven and a
new earth upon the ashes of the wicked. Thus is fulfilled "for
they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet." Malachi 4:3.
The utter end is made and God becomes "all in all." I
The reward of
the righteous is far greater than what we can even begin to imagine.
You will not hear one word of complaint or disappointment at the
outcome for "eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered
into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those
who love Him." I Corinthians 2:9. Whatever you may have had to
give up on this earth will be nothing in comparison to the glory of
the hereafter. "For I consider that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which
shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18. The worst possible
mistake we could make would be to end up in the lake of fire. Will
you make that choice to love Jesus enough to do whatever he asks so
that you will be able to walk on that earth made new and have that
eternal security that sin has met its utter end?
the authors unless otherwise stated.
All texts from
the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Here and Hereafter, Uriah Smith, originally published by
Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1897, reprinted by Amazing
Hell Fire, Joe Crews, published by Amazing Facts.
The Race to Contact the Dead, Cody Francis, published by
Steps to Life.
Studying Together, Mark Finley, published by Hart Research
If you would
like to reprint or translate this book please contact Steps to Life
1999 by Steps to Life
Printed in the
Steps to Life
P0 Box 782828
Wichita Kansas 67278-2828
Cover Design by Christian Berdahl