"The Lake of Fire!"
Some time in the last half of the first century AD, the apostle John (whom Jesus loved) was on the Isle of Patmos when he found himself "in spirit on the Lord's day." Among his many remarkable visions he saw this:
Concerning the "Second Death," John also has this to report:
And finally this one:
These are all the Scriptural references in the entire Bible that mention the "lake of fire and the second death."
Theologians and clergymen by the thousands have been telling the world that this lake of fire is little more than an eternal torture chamber. It is the final HELL of eternal separation from God accompanied by unfathomable pain, torture, and despair.
We have been told that there is absolutely no possibility of ever being rescued from this hellhole of suffering and human misery where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, as real fire barbecues their bodies, and while worms will be eating their flesh. This hideous scene is to continue day and night for trillions of billions of quadrillions of centuries upon centuries--for EVER!
We are told that those who will spend eternity in this prison of pain have themselves chosen to spend eternity there - that God doesn't send anyone to hell, but that people actually choose, themselves, to go there. Even a fool knows that no person would ever choose such a fate, but theologians must somehow get God off of the hook of responsibility, for surely this place exists and will continue to exist for eternity they assure us.
Famous TV preachers like John Hagee tell us that "...every boy and every girl who dies without knowing Jesus Christ spends an eternity in a city where the fire is never quenched and the worm dieth not." And Mr. Hagee adds, "AND IT'S JUSTICE!"
World renowned pastor, educator, and theologian Dr. James Kennedy tells the world that for a man in India who told a lie, and for a man in the Islands who stole chickens by night to feed his family, their sins will put them into the tortures of an eternal hell, even if they never heard of the name of Jesus Christ their only possible Savior. And Dr. Kennedy adds, "HELL IS FAIR!"
Does the Word of God actually and literally teach such a hellhole of eternal torture in fire from which there is no redemption ever? Don't be too sure till you have read this paper and compared it with Scripture. That the Scriptures do speak of a "lake of fire which is the second death" there is no denial. However:
The Scriptures answer all of these questions, and the answers are not even in the same universe with what has been popularly taught by theologians.
Some have even taught that God and His Saints will actually derive happiness and pleasure from this fabled eternal torture and misfortune of the majority of all humanity that has ever lived.
Men are bold and audacious in how they characterize the very nature of God Almighty. I heard just tonight on one of the major news channels that Saddam Hussein enjoys his leisure by watching videos of men being tortured! Most of us shudder at the very thought of anything so satanic and evil. And yet ... and YET, many theologians (and Christian lay members as well) would put God Almighty and our Lord Jesus Christ in the base company of such depraved minds! God have mercy on them all; they know not what they say!
FIVE GENERAL SCENARIOS
Let's look at five general possibilities for the interpretation of this lake of fire and second death.
THREE FALSE ASSUMPTIONS
Fundamentalist Christians are the largest group who hold three bedrock doctrinal teachings, which are really only assumptions, regarding the lake of fire:
Are any of these three assumptions true or Scriptural? Absolutely and unequivocally NOT!
In our journey we will clearly see that these verses are NOT to be taken literally, and they do NOT represent a place called hell, and God will NOT torture anyone for all eternity.
We will also see from the Scriptures that God never punishes for the sole purpose of torturing. God always punishes and chastises for the ultimate purpose of correcting, righting, amending, changing, fixing, rectifying, redeeming and saving. That God can and will accomplish these things with every creature in heaven and earth is fully substantiated by hundreds of Scriptures in His Word.
And there are no Scriptural doctrines or teachings to the contrary. NONE! This IS the Good News Gospel which precious few on this earth have ever heard. It is God's "WILL" that all mankind be saved (I Tim. 2:4), and God's "will" WILL be done (Matt. 6:10 and Isaiah 46:10-11)!
But seriously, don't these Scriptures (at least in the King James Bible) sound like the beast, the false prophet, Satan, and all who are not found written in the book of life will be tortured for ever and ever in the lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death? Granted, in King James translation, it does definitely sound that way. But when we remove a few unscriptural assumptions, a few pagan traditions, and a couple of totally mistranslated words, words that never appear in the Greek manuscripts, we will discover an even more profound love that God has for His creatures, rather than some monstrous god of eternal hatred which has been concocted by theologians and promulgated through bad translations for centuries.
LITERAL OR SYMBOLIC?
In many cases it is not difficult to determine whether a verse is literal or not. But, since we use figures of speech so often we tend to forget that much of what we say daily is not literally true. Many of us would hardly be able to carry on a conversation if we had to drop out of our vocabulary every word and every phrase we speak that is NOT LITERALLY TRUE. The English language, as well as all other languages, is just filled with symbolic and metaphorical phrases.
The first eleven verses of Chapter one in Revelation are an introduction regarding where, how, and what John is going to record for us. Much of this introduction can be taken literally, however, not all. Beginning with verse twelve, we are confronted with one symbol after another for the remainder of the entire twenty-two-chapter-book.
Everything written in Revelation is true, but most is not literally true.
The fact is there are many many truths in the Bible that are not literally true.
Jesus "said" that the bread He gave His disciples at the Lord's supper was His body. Yet, Jesus Himself explains in other places that this was not literally true. He gave them literal bread, and not His literal physical flesh. What that bread represented, and symbolized, was indeed, His body--but not his physical body.
Jesus said that the words that he spoke were SPIRIT (John 6:63). Jesus Christ changes not. His words are STILL spirit and they certainly were spirit when John wrote the words of Christ regarding His unveiling or revelation. Just as we physically feed on physical bread for PHYSICAL LIFE, thus also we spiritually feed on Jesus Christ's spiritual body for SPIRITUAL LIFE.
Understand this! Some think that by accepting the Scriptures as they are given (in the case of Revelation that means AS SYMBOLS), that somehow this "spiritualizes away" the teaching. What? It is the "spiritual" aspect of these symbols that IS THE REAL THING; THE REAL UNDERSTANDING! Physical things "pass away" whereas spiritual things are eternal! The very FACT that this book is written in "symbols" is proof positive that the understanding of them is SPIRITUAL and not physical or literal.
Symbols, metaphors, and parables ARE NEVER LITERALLY TRUE! But they powerfully demonstrate SPIRITUAL TRUTHS!
"This is the second death--the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15 and 21:8) is a metaphor that is no more literal than "Jesus taking the bread...said, "Take, EAT. This IS My body" (Mat. 26:26).
Paul did not instruct Timothy to "STUDY" the scriptures if a mere casual reading is all that is necessary to comprehend its many deep and profound teachings. On the other hand, I believe that those who have "studied" God's Word are able to open up much understanding to those who are not called to teach (even babes, or minors as our Lord stated).
I want to quickly show my readers just how impossible it is to assume most of God's word is literal.
Again I state: All God's Word is TRUE, however, much of it is figurative language which is not literally true to fact, but rather in what the figurative language of symbols, metaphors, and parables represent.
If the following section is too heavy for you, just skip to the next heading.
BIBLICAL FIGURES OF SPEECH
Here are some of the fully substantiated figures of language used in Scripture. I borrowed many of these examples from an appendix in the back of The Concordant Literal New Testament.
We will begin with FIGURES OF LIKENESS which include:
There are FIGURES OF ASSOCIATION which include:
Here are many of the words from the book of Revelation used as SYMBOLS:
And even heaven and earth are used as symbols in this great book of symbols.
There are also FIGURES OF OMISSION which include:
I did not include this basic listing of "figures of speech" in the Scriptures, just to fill another page. It is most important to understand that the study of the Scriptures is not the same as studying a high school or college text book. It is far different. School text books, as a rule, would not contain even one percent of the figures that I have presented here. And if we do not have even an elementary understanding of these many and varied figures of speech, we will hardly be in a position to TEACH God's Word to others.
It is the height of naivety to believe that whenever someone shouts, "My King James Bible SAYS... ", that what follows will be non-refutable Scriptural proof of that person's doctrinal preference. Thank God that:
The Scriptures themselves really do interpret other Scriptures. This is true for interpreting prophesies and doctrinal issues.
PARABLES ARE NOT LITERALLY TRUE STORIES
The parables of Jesus are certainly true, but they are not literally true. Example: one cannot possibly put a "beam" (a large piece of lumber) in or out of one's eye, Mat. 7:3-5. The moral of this parable is certainly a great truth. The symbols used to teach that truth (namely a large piece of lumber in one's eye) is, of course, not literally or possibly true. The beam represents a huge character flaw, not foreign matter in one's eye. It's a figure of speech.
We also use such figures dozens of times a day without even realizing it. We say such things as "Don't cry over spilt milk" although we are not literally speaking of crying, nor are we speaking of milk, but rather of a disappointment that has caused sadness.
When we show our respect for our country's flag, we are not even thinking about respecting a piece of cloth, but rather the nation that the flag represents. A flag is a symbol that represents a nation. A band of gold is just a band of gold, but a wedding ring is symbolic of something much larger, something huge, something GRAND!
Who "wears the pants" in your family? Has "the cat taken your tongue" lately? Can you "carry a tune in a bucket?" Do you follow the "spin doctors" with their commentary on the "movers and shakers" in Washington, DC? Where do you stand when "the tire hits the road?" Do you know for a fact that "the early bird gets the worm?" Does "a stitch in time save nine?" Are any of your friends "square?" Is it "cool" to eat chili on a hot day? Do people turn "blue" when they are sad? Do cowards really have "a yellow stripe down their back?" Are you "worth your salt?" Do you know people who are "pigeon heads" and "hot heads?" If people realized that "silence is golden," maybe they would stop "breaking your ear drums." Do you think that I am just "pulling your leg?" And just when will "hell freeze over?"
All languages have many, many figures of speech that are not literally true. And God also uses symbols, figures, idioms, metaphors and parables, over and over in His Word--hundreds and hundreds of times!
I know of very few who will believe it, but it is true nonetheless, that Jesus taught the masses in parables and parables ONLY so that they would NOT understand the message He was giving them (See Matt. 13).
Figures, parables, metaphors, and symbols are in many ways like poetry. Take the phrase, "No man is an island" from one of my favorite poems. How wonderfully worded and true are those words?
Or this line, "Every man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind."
How many unsaved friends do you have? Will YOU not be diminished for all eternity if they are not saved? Will GOD not be diminished for all eternity if billions and billions of His creatures are not saved but are rather separated and tortured in some hellhole of fire?
Elementary school children are not likely to understand such a poem as "No man is an island." They would say, of course no man is an island, neither is a man a house or a car or a telephone pole either. Yet this is the same childish mentality that many theologians use in interpreting Scripture such as the lake of fire and second death.
For all too many, these marvelous Scriptures have no meaning beyond the literal meaning of the literal words. And so, for most, the Word of God remains a giant enigma. How sad!
Right now, here in Miami, it is "raining cats and dogs." Or is it really? It sometimes rains real fish, but cats and dogs? But if it ever does rain cats and dogs, I'll eat my hat.
Some of these things are extremely elementary and others are extremely complex. God told Daniel that the wise will understand. It is not wise, but foolish to insist that countless symbols in the Bible are literal.
With that all said, let us now see that most of what is said in this marvelous book called Revelation is not literal, but symbolic.
My King James Bible says:
And then verse one says,
Which is it? It is, of course, the latter, seeing that the title is merely man's interpretation which is obviously wrong. The book of Revelation is a revelation OF Jesus Christ. It is not just a revelation from Jesus Christ, but a revelation of or about Jesus Christ. It is a revelation of HIM!
Most of my life I believed that the book of Revelation was a literal prophecy about events that will happen at the END OF THE WORLD! Prophesies that had virtually no meaning for those who have lived during the past two thousand years since it was written. But for most of my life, I WAS IN ERROR!
Now for a most important understanding. Just how was this revelation to John to be recorded and preserved? Notice it:
What does it mean to "signify?" Certainly this prophecy of the revelation or unveiling of Christ was written down (ver. 19), but it means more than just that. To "signify" has to do with signs and symbols. From my Webster's Twentieth Century Dictionary p. 1541, first definition of signify:
First definition of sign:
That which, being external, represents or signifies something internal or spiritual.
The synonym for sign is: symbol.
There is no mistaking this language. The book of Revelation is written in SYMBOLS! So what is written externally, on paper, in symbols, has a SPIRITUAL meaning and application.
Let us now see the symbolism of this prophecy. I will pick out some of the most obvious things that would be impossible to understand literally.
Notice that in verse ten John informs us that,
And then he begins to tell us what he hears and sees. Now the very fact that he was "in the spirit" on the Lord's day conclusively proves that he was not literally there! Let us never lose sight of this fact: John WRITES what has been SIGNIFIED (WITH SYMBOLS) the things that he SEES and HEARS IN A VISION--IN SPIRIT!
Beginning in verse twelve John starts to tell us what he saw and heard,
NONE of what I underlined is literal. Have you ever "seen a voice?" All these things are symbols that stand for other things. And God immediately gives us proof positive of this in verse 20,
The stars are not literal and the candlesticks are not literal. In the first 20 verses of Revelation we can find eleven statements that are not literal, but rather symbolic. They represent truths that are presented in symbols. The literal language is not the literal truth being presented. The statements themselves do not teach us the truth OF the statements. We must look elsewhere in the Scriptures for the interpretation.
Now chapter one was pretty easy as God told us just what some of those symbols represented. But there are dozens and dozens more symbols in this book of Revelation that are not explained in the verses that follow immediately. How shall we understand all those symbols. First of all, without the spirit of God, the answer is we will never understand these symbols. But guided by God's spirit, God can show us in other places in His Word what these mysterious symbols represent. It is God Who provides us with "ears to hear and eyes to see."
Now look at chapter two:
Is it necessary for me to go through this entire book verse by verse before we can fully realize that this book is written in figurative, symbolic, and metaphorical language?
Let's look at just a few more:
Any theologian or preacher on international television would be laughed to scorn if he were to preach a sermon trying to prove that all of the above Scriptures are to be taken absolutely literally. Such a sermon would be seen as foolish by nearly everyone. No educated man in the Word of God would ever dare to present anything so STUPID!
And yet ... and YET, when we come to verse 20: will a literal beast and a literal false prophet be cast alive into a literal "lake of fire burning with brimstone?" How do these same theologians and preachers answer? They answer: "Yes, of course they will be thrown into a literal lake of fire, because THIS IS LITERAL."
Amazing. Absolutely amazing--the power of the carnal mind to self-deceive. Why are fundamentalists totally sure that these verses on a lake of fire are literal? Well, of course, they aren't sure; they just pretend to be sure. They desire with their whole heart and being that this lake of fire is real fire. Why? Because the eternal torture of billions of men and women and boys and girls in some fabled hellhole doesn't "diminish" them one iota! They want people who don't believe as they believe to have their flesh barbecued over fire and brimstone for all eternity. The very idea gives them great joy. And it makes them proud. They have no love for sinners as God does. They hate sinners. They hate unbelievers. They love only themselves. They pronounce CURSES on me for quoting Scriptures that show God will save everyone. They highly disapprove of God being the saviour of the whole world. They won't hear of it; they won't have it! They don't approve of a God Who would save everyone by bringing them to repentance, and purging them, and turning their hearts to God. If God were to save everyone through the purging of his SPIRITUAL FIRE, then they could not wag their fingers at all these people sizzling and popping like bacon in a hot skillet saying, "I told you so, I told you so..." for all eternity. Hussein and Bin Laden are not the only ones out there with depraved religious minds.
God did not write nineteen whole chapters of Revelation giving us symbol after symbol and metaphor after metaphor, and then in chapter 20 switch to writing in literal language with literal meanings.
The book of Revelation was "signified" by the use of signs and symbols. Signs and symbols always represent or mean something other than the sign or symbol itself. We are all familiar with symbols and signs so that we should never be confused as to what a sign or symbol is or is not. A red and white striped barber's pole is not a barber shop, neither is it a barber, but it is a sign or symbol that immediately conveys to our understanding what it represents--namely a barber shop with a barber.
There are many more Scriptures that will prove that this lake of fire has a much more benevolent purpose than barbecuing human flesh for all eternity for the sheer sick and depraved entertainment of Christian Fundamentalists.
Be it known however, that the lake of fire and the second death DO INDEED picture something spiritual that relates to or has some properties of, LITERAL FIRE and LITERAL DEATH. Without some similar properties, the metaphor would be meaningless. I have read some extremely complex definitions of a metaphor which were totally wrong. A metaphor is where one thing is said to BE something else. Here's a Scriptural example: "All flesh is grass" (I Pet. 1:24). That's simple enough. Now then, is that statement by Peter true? Yes, of course, it is true. Is it literally true? No, it is not literally true. Then how do we know for sure what there is ABOUT this metaphor that is true? If a metaphor is not literally true, how is it true at all?
MAKING THE SIMPLE COMPLICATED
Reading some theories about the meaning of metaphors causes me to think of the man who when describing the feats of a circus performer stated: "He performs feats of ease with the greatest of difficulty." It is absolutely amazing how theologians can make relatively easy to understand principles seem most difficult. I will now show you an exercise of just such grammatical gymnastics. It's just three very short paragraphs, so indulge me and I will try to simplify the whole thing immediately thereafter.
Here then is a complicated example from "Concordant Studies--The Lake of Fire" page 9:
From page 10:
And finally, from page 11:
Okay, did you get all that? I want to just borrow a few statements from the above explanation of a metaphor and see if these things be so or not. Trust me, we will get through this quickly:
KEEPING THE SIMPLE, SIMPLE
Must we all be theologians with a 150 IQ to understand these things? That leaves me out.
Let's just take a couple of very simple metaphors from the Scriptures and apply the above conclusions to them. Here's a simple one:
Can we apply the first deduction made by the author quoted above? Let's try it:
No, this is clearly not true, anymore than all life REPRESENTS trees, or all life REPRESENTS worms, or any other thing! We can certainly use the word "represents" with reference to metaphors, but not in the way the above author does. It is wrong to say that the subject of a metaphor "represents" the predicate, and it is equally wrong to say that the predicate of a metaphor "represents" the subject. Neither is true. However, both the subject AND the predicate TOGETHER, do "represent" something. And THAT'S why it is called a metaphor rather than a statement of fact!
What about number 2: The subject of a metaphor is symbolic, while the predicate is literal Let's try this out on our sample metaphor:
No, that doesn't work either. How in the world can "symbolic life" BE "literal grass?"
And now number 3: Is it true that the subject of a metaphor must "represent" something that "...consists in a literal expression and is a literal entity"? Nope. Not true. All life is not LITERALLY grass! PEOPLE are not grass, ELEPHANTS are not grass, BIRDS are not grass, FISH are not grass, BACTERIA are not grass, and a thousand other forms of life are NOT literal grass! Am I going too fast for anyone?
Earlier I stated that most believe one of the following:
I believe that the lake of fire AND the second death are both symbolic and figurative language.
Is it true that one part of a metaphor must be literal or there is no way to understand the metaphor? No, that is not true. Let me give you an example that I doubt many have really meditated on:
The greatest minds in theology have haggled for hundreds of years over this metaphor that Christ used at the last supper. Does the bread literally turn into the body flesh of Christ when we eat that bread as the Catholic faith demands? What a silly question. IT'S A METAPHOR! And the idea that one of the two parts of a metaphor must be literal is likewise silly.
In this metaphor, the bread is a symbol. Is there anyone who cannot recognize that Christ used bread from the table as a "symbol" of something? Then when used as a symbol, neither can it be any longer literal. Is there anyone who cannot recognize that Christ used His own body as a "symbol" of something? Then when used as a symbol it neither can be any longer literal. That being said then, the bread is symbolic AND Christ's body is also symbolic! Jesus used literal "bread" from the table and used the literal words "my body." When Jesus picked up the bread and broke it, no one thought that He was talking about CHEESE! When Jesus said, "my body," no one thought He was speaking of His clothing or His shoes. Everyone at that table knew what "bread" was and what Christ's "body" was. However ... HOWEVER, Christ used the words "bread" and "my body" in a METAPHOR! He said, "Take eat, this [bread] IS My body." That my friends is a METAPHOR! And as a metaphor, neither the bread nor Christ's body is to be taken literally! "I am the BREAD OF LIFE..." (John 6:35).
We do NOT eat physical bread to partake of the symbolic or spiritual life-giving food of Christ's body. Nor would we be partaking of spiritual or symbolic bread by eating Christ's literal flesh and blood body. Can we not see that neither part of a metaphor must always be literal. The bread is used as a symbol because literal bread is called the staff of life. Christ's body is used in this metaphor because our spiritual nourishment comes from no other source but Jesus Christ. They say that we are what we eat. When we partake of the real staff of life--the spiritual food of Christ's body, we ourselves BECOME the very body of Christ ourselves!
Here's the Scriptural proof:
But just as most are totally blind regarding the meaning of Scriptural metaphors today, they were also ignorant of Christ's words when He spoke them:
They also thought that metaphors were LITERAL! Christ is the Bread that came down FROM HEAVEN, not the bread that comes from wheat out of the ground. Christ is NO LONGER flesh and blood. He has been raised with a SPIRITUAL BODY
We partake of Christ's spiritual body, not literal flesh, blood and muscle protein.
If we fight and argue as the foolish Jews did over what part of metaphor must be literal, we will learn nothing. If we can't understand a simple metaphor as "Take eat, this [bread] IS my body," how will we ever understand "The lake of fire which IS the second death?"
I don't wish to belabor this point, but it is of paramount importance and sometimes if we would hunger and thirst after righteousness, there is definitely some labor involved.
The easiest way I know to explain a metaphor is to simply state how metaphors are used, and it all becomes rather simple. If Peter's statement that "all life is grass" is not literally true, then why say it? Why use it? Because when we understand metaphors, they speak volumes about a subject in just a very few words--much like poetry. "All life is grass" means that all life is like grass IN CERTAIN WAYS. That's it! That's just how simple it is. Life is like grass in certain ways, in that it is fragile, easily killed, short-lived, here today; gone tomorrow, etc. But, on the other hand, ALL life is NOT like grass in certain other ways. Not all life is attached to the ground, unintelligent, and colored green! Am I going too fast for anyone?
PHYSICAL FIRE VERSUS SPIRITUAL FIRE
Without realizing it, those who defend a literal fire in this judgment of God will have a very hard time showing that anyone can be "tormented day and night for ever and ever" in a literal fire. If the fire is literal, then the idea that anyone could be tormented for ever and ever is totally impossible! How so? We will see.
Notice who is thrown into this lake of fire:
So now what will our fundamentalist friends do with this evidence? Real, physical, literal fires, BURN UP physical bodies! And, real, physical, literal fires CANNOT burn or harm spiritual bodies! Sorry, but that's just the way it is!
But these verses say that there is "fire" and that those in it are "tormented." So what kind of fire are we talking about and what kind of torment are we talking about? First, the fire.
If this lake of fire is not real, physical, literal fire, is there then such a thing as "figurative fire" or "spiritual fire?" I'm so glad you asked. As a matter of Scriptural fact, yes there is such a thing as "figurative and spiritual fire." Let's start with the most profound Scripture regarding spiritual fire. As we all know, "God IS SPIRIT" (John 4:24). But have you never read:
God has shown Himself to be not only a fire, but a CONSUMING FIRE all through the Scriptures. You will be amazed how often God speaks of fire in bringing judgment on humanity. ALL IS OF GOD, II Cor. 5:18, Rom. 11:36, Eph. 1:11, etc. God IS a consuming FIRE.
God IS this lake of fire!
But since it is not literal fire, what does it burn? What does it consume? -- It is the "works of the flesh" that made sinners of those thrown into the lake of fire in the first place. And we shall see from the Scriptures that it is these very works of the flesh that are consumed in this lake of fire. And don't think for a moment that it is not a most painful and tormenting experience to have one's carnal mind with all its ungodly passions, thoughts and deeds, burned clean and pure by the consuming fire of God's Holy Spirit!
God doesn't change. He will use the same method in the day of judging at the white throne as He uses on US. Although the intensity will get considerably more severe for those who blaspheme till the end.
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). However, that does not purge us from all our filthy thoughts and deeds. No, there is more. There is also a consuming FIRE that God uses on us:
Ah dear readers, can we begin to understand the workings of God? God consumes with fire, the wood, hay and stubble in our lives. The things that don't deserve to continue. But he REFINES the gold, silver, and precious stones (those doctrines and godly character traits of God's spirit that abide the fire). It is figurative language, it is an analogy, it is a parable, it is metaphorical (where one thing is called another thing). Our lives have either qualities of character (which are likened to gold and precious stones, things of value to refine and retain), or gross lacks in character (which are likened to wood, hay, and stubble and which are not worthy to retain or preserve).
And just as real literal fire is used to refine and purify gold and precious metals, so God's SPIRITUAL FIRE refines and purifies us from our sinful and carnal nature. And likewise, as real literal fire is used to burn up wood and stubble, so God's all consuming SPIRITUAL FIRE will consume and burn up all the impurities in our life. These things MUST DIE. This purging is the SECOND DEATH. And whether the person God subjects to His consuming fire has many good qualities or none, the person himself shall be purged, purified, and SAVED BY GOD'S ALL-CONSUMING SPIRITUAL FIRE!!! We just read it in God's Holy Word. How can any deny it? Every person who has ever lived will be subjected to the cleaning fire of God's spirit.
God is the JUDGE (Rev. 20;12). NOT Satan. This judgment throne is "WHITE" not black! God judges in righteousness.
Next I present a Scripture that many fundamentalists hate. I'll bet if you attended a fundamentalist church, you never heard a sermon on this verse. We read that God has appointed a day (a period of time) in which He will "JUDGE" the whole world. Revelation 20:10-15 IS THAT DAY OF JUDGMENT! Now we know that those not found in the book of life will be put into FIRE, and they will be TORMENTED. This is certainly part of this judgment. But it is not literal fire. Literal fire burns up physical things and literal fire cannot harm spiritual things. So what does the fire do or accomplish? MUCH!
This judgment in Revelation 20 IS that worldwide judgment spoken of in many prophecies. But is the purpose of this worldwide judgment to torture people by burning their flesh in real fire for all eternity? Is that HOW God judges in "righteousness"? Absolutely not. We just read where God burns up our fleshly WORKS, and this is "tormenting" for sure. But God does not torture our flesh for all eternity. Don't get me wrong, there will be severe chastisements on those who despise God and His Savior and His Gospel. But out of their ashes will come salvation. Here is another marvelous Scripture which answers what happens to sinning humanity when God JUDGES THE WORLD in righteousness.
Make no mistake, God will judge the wicked with great severity. However, ALWAYS FOR A BENEVOLENT PURPOSE:
There will come a time when those who only knew how to blaspheme the name of God, will come to LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS. They will not just "hear" of righteousness, no, they will actually "LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS"!
The whole book of Isaiah speaks of judgments on Israel and on the nations. But the end of all these judgments is SALVATION TO ALL. Notice Isa. 45:22-23,
God's words will NOT return empty or void. When God speaks, it will be done. When God wills, it will be done. When God desires, His desires WILL BE DONE:
Oh the blasphemy of those who teach that God's most heartfelt desires WILL NOT COME TO PASS, but will utterly fail!!! Jesus Christ is not the potential Savior of the world; He IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!!! HE WILL SAVE THE WORLD!!!
How many self-appointed, bible-thumping, doomsday, fire and brimstone, eternal torture in hell preachers believe these verses in Isaiah? Not one that I know of! Most Christians have never been taught the Scriptures that I am giving you. These things are despised by many who call themselves "Christian." And yet, God's Word is FULL of such statements of God's salvation to all.