Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?
1. How many lost souls are being punished in hell today?
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Peter 2:9.
Answer: There is not one single soul in hellfire today. The Bible says that God reserves, or holds back, the wicked until the day of judgment to be punished.
2. When will sinners be cast into hellfire?
"So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Matthew 13:40-42. "The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48.
Answer: Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the great judgment day at the end of the world--not when they die. God would not punish a person in fire until his case was tried and decided in court at the end of the world. Nor would God burn a murderer who died 5,000 years ago 5,000 years longer than one who dies and deserves punishment for the same sin today.
3. Where are sinners (who have died) now?
"The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28, 29. "The wicked is reserved to the day of destruction." "Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb." Job 21:30, 32.
Answer: The Bible is specific. Both the wicked and the righteous who have died are in their graves "sleeping" until the resurrection day.
4. What is the end result of sin?
"The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 6:23. "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James 1:15. "God ... gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16.
Answer: The wages (or punishment) for sin is death, not everlasting life in hellfire. The wicked "perish," or receive "death." The righteous receive "everlasting life."
5. What will happen to the wicked in hellfire?
"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Revelation 21:8.
Answer: The wicked die the second death in hellfire. If the wicked lived forever being tortured in hell, they would be immortal. But this is impossible, because the Bible says God "only hath immortality." 1 Timothy 6:16. When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel was posted to guard the tree of life so that sinners would not eat of the tree and "live for ever." Genesis 3:22-24. The teaching that sinners are immortal in hell originated with Satan and is completely untrue. God prevented this when sin entered this earth by guarding the tree of life.
Bible Clear--Wicked Obliterated
The Bible says the wicked suffer "death" (Romans 6:23), will suffer "destruction" (Job 21:30), "shall perish" (Psalms 37:20), will "burn" up (Malachi 4:1), "shall be destroyed together" (Psalms 37:38), will "consume away" (Psalms 37:20), "shall be cut off" (Psalms 37:9), "shall be slain" (Psalms 62:3). God will "destroy" them (Psalms 145:20), and "fire shall devour them" (Psalms 21:9). Note that all of these references make it clear that the wicked die and are destroyed. They do not live forever in misery.
6. When and how will hellfire be kindled?
"So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man ... shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Matthew 13:40-42. "They went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." Revelation 20:9. "The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." Proverbs 11:31.
Answer: At the end of the world, God Himself will kindle hellfire. As the holy city comes down from God out of heaven (Revelation 21:2), the wicked attempt to capture it. At that time, God will rain down fire from heaven upon the earth, and it will devour the wicked. This fire is Bible hellfire.
7. How big and how hot will hellfire be?
"The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10.
Answer: Hellfire will be just as big as this earth because it will be the earth on fire. This fire will be so hot as to melt the earth and burn up all "the works that are therein." The atmospheric heavens will explode and "pass away with a great noise."
8. How long will the wicked suffer in the fire?
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation 22:12. "And then he shall reward every man according to his works." Matthew 16:27. "That servant, which knew his lord's will, and ... neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes." Luke 12:47, 48.
Answer: The Bible does not tell how long the wicked will be punished before receiving death in the fire. God does specifically state, however, that all will be punished according to their deeds. This means some will receive greater punishment than others, based upon their works.
9. Will the fire eventually go out?
"Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it." Isaiah 47:14. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth." "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:1, 4.
Answer: Yes, indeed, the Bible specifically teaches that hellfire will go out and that there will not be left "a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it." The Bible also teaches that in God's new kingdom all "former things" will be passed away. Hell, being one of the former things, is included, so we have God's promise that it will be abolished.
Is God a Torturer?
If God tortured His enemies in a fiery horror chamber throughout eternity, He would be more vicious and heartless than men have ever been in the worst of war atrocities. An eternal hell of torment would be hell for God also, who loves even the vilest sinner.
10. What will be left when the fire goes out?
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 4:1, 3.
Answer: Notice the verse does not say the wicked will burn like asbestos, as many today believe, but rather like stubble, which will be burned up. The little word "up" denotes completion. Nothing but ashes will be left when the fire goes out. In Psalms 37:10, 20, the Bible says the wicked will go up in smoke and be completely destroyed.11. Will the wicked enter hell in bodily form and be destroyed both soul and body?
"It is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." Matthew 5:30. "Rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Ezekiel 18:20.
Answer: Yes. Real, live people enter hell in bodily form and are destroyed both soul and body. The fire from God out of heaven will fall upon real people and blot them out of existence.
12. Will the devil be in charge of hellfire?
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:10. "I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. ... And never shall thou be any more." Ezekiel 28:18, 19.
Answer: Absolutely not! The devil will be cast into the fire, and it will turn him into ashes.13. Does the word "hell" as used in the Bible always refer to a place of burning or punishment?
Answer: No, the word "hell" is used 54 times in the Bible, and in only 12 cases does it refer to "a place of burning."
The word "hell" is translated from several different words with various meanings, as indicated below:
|IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
31 times from "Sheol," which means "the grave."
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
10 times from "Hades," which means "the grave."
12 times from "Gehenna," which means "the place of burning."
1 time from "Tartarus," which means "a place of darkness."
54 TIMES TOTAL
Note: The Greek word "Gehenna" (mentioned above) is a transliteration of the Hebrew "Ge-Hinnom," which means the "Valley of Hinnom." This valley, which lies immediately south and west of Jerusalem, was a place where dead animals, garbage, and other refuse were dumped. Fire burned constantly, as it does at modern sanitation dump sites. The Bible uses "Gehenna" or the "Valley of Hinnom" as a symbol of the fire that will destroy the lost at the end of time. The fire of Gehenna was not unending. Otherwise it would be still burning southwest of Jerusalem today. Neither will the fire of hell be unending.
14. What is God's real purpose in hellfire?
"Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:15. "For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be." "The enemies of the Lord ... shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away." Psalms 37:10, 20.
Answer: God's purpose is that hell will destroy the devil and all sin and sinners and make the world safe for eternity. One sinner, if left on this planet, would be a deadly virus forever threatening the universe. It is God's plan to isolate sin and blot it out of existence for all time.
Eternal Hell Would Perpetuate Sin
An eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin and make its eradication impossible. An eternal hell of torment is not part of God's great plan at all. Such a horrible theory is slander against the holy name of a loving God. The devil delights to see our loving Creator pictured as such a monstrous tyrant, and he alone can benefit from such teachings.
Eternal Hell a Man-made Theory
The "eternal hell of torment" theory originated not from the Bible, but from misguided people who were (perhaps inadvertently) led of the devil. And, incidentally, no one will be in heaven because he feared hell. People are saved because they love and obey Christ.
15. Isn't the work of destroying sinners foreign to God's nature?
"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" Ezekiel 33:11. "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Luke 9:56. "For the Lord shall rise up ... that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act." Isaiah 28:21.
Answer: Yes, the work of God has always been to save rather than destroy. The work of destroying the wicked in hellfire is so foreign to God's nature that the Bible calls it His "strange act." God's great heart will ache at the destruction of the wicked. Oh, how diligently He works to save every soul! But if one spurns His love and clings to sin, God will have no choice but to destroy the sinner with his sin when He rids the universe of that horrible, malignant growth called "sin" in the fires of the last day.
16. What are God's post-hell plans for the earth and His people?
"He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time." Nahum 1:9. "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Isaiah 65:17. "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." Revelation 21:3, 4.
Answer: After hellfire goes out, God will create a new earth and restore it to His people--with all the beauties and glories of Eden before sin entered. The horrors of sin and the past will be forgotten. Pain, death, tragedy, woe, tears, sickness, disappointment, sorrow, and all sin will be banished forever.
Sin Will Not Rise Again
God promises that sin will never rise again. His people will be filled with perfect peace, love, joy, and contentment. Their lives of complete happiness will be far more glorious and thrilling than mere words could ever describe. The real tragedy of hell is in missing heaven. A person who fails to enter this magnificent kingdom has made the saddest choice of a lifetime.
We went about it all wrong, on our own, not consulting God. We put ourselves in front when our own desires we should have placed behind. Now what ? "The Lord is more willing to give His Holy Spirit to those who serve Him than parents are to give good gifts to their children," (AA, 50). Although we've rejected God's best, by the influence of the Holy Spirit our backsliding can be reversed. Study with us now as we ask in prayer for His assistance and "avail ourselves of all the help and light that God has given" in order to understand this precious Everlasting Gospel (CH, 506), and in order to then share and speak truth with the heavenly oil of love that our words of reproof may be spoken in love (COL, 337), no matter the consequences.