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Bible Studies

17. God's Love in the Fires of Hell

Triumph of God's Plan

If you were God, would you delight in tormenting sinners in hell for millions and millions of years? Could you be truly happy in heaven if you knew an unsaved relative or friend was intensely suffering in the fires of hell at that very moment? How could a loving God burn sinners in hell for eternity? If God knows everything, wouldn't these suffering sinners be continually on His mind? Most of us would not want to torment our worst enemy that way. Is it logical that a loving God would keep His enemies in a continual state of suffering for eternity? Is hell a hot spot in the center of the earth, some burning, fiery chasm with millions crying out for deliverance right now? This is no small matter. The concept of an eternally burning hell has led many to reject God altogether. The Bible presents a clear answer for the question of God's love in the fires of hell.

01. What is God's desire for every one of us?
1 Timothy 2:3–4
03. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
04. who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

02. What does the prophet Isaiah call the destruction of the wicked?
Isaiah 28:21
For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be angry as in the Valley of Gibeon— That He may do His work, His awesome work, And bring to pass His act, His unusual act.

When ancient Israel rebelled against God, He allowed their enemies to destroy them. God withdrew His protecting power and allowed them to experience the result of their own choices. The destruction of Israel was God's "strange act" (Isaiah 28:21) or "unusual act" (verse 21, NKV). God's final destruction of the wicked is not the result of God's anger. It is the result of the sinners' rebellion. lt is called "strange" or "unusual" because the heart of a loving God longs to save.

03. Where do the fires of hell originate?
Hebrews 12:29

For our God is a consuming fire.
Since our God is a consuming fire, the fires of hell that destroy the wicked originate in His righteous character. God is a consuming fire to sin. When a sinner clings to sin, God becomes a consuming fire to that sinner.

04. Where are both the righteous and the wicked rewarded?
Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
Proverbs 11:31
If the righteous will be recompensed on the earth, How much more the ungodly and the sinner.

05. When do the wicked and the righteous receive their final rewards? Is hell a hot spot always burning in the center of the earth with the Devil in charge?
2 Peter 2:4, 9

04. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
09. then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,

06. How completely will the fires of hell destroy the wicked? Will they burn throughout millions of years?
Malachi 4:1–3

01. “For 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.
02. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings; And you shall go out And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
03. 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.
Psalm 37:10
For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more.
Job 20:5–9
05. That the triumphing of the wicked is short, And the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment?
06. Though his haughtiness mounts up to the heavens, And his head reaches to the clouds,
07. Yet he will perish forever like his own refuse; Those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’
08. He will fly away like a dream, and not be found; Yes, he will be chased away like a vision of the night.
09. The eye that saw him will see him no more, Nor will his place behold him anymore.
Proverbs 10:25
When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation.
Isaiah 47:14
Behold, they shall be as stubble
[remains of straw], 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!

07. What does God call the destruction of the wicked?
Matthew 25:46

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The destruction of the wicked is everlasting. Sinners do not remain alive in the fires of hell forever. God, in one act, destroys them forever. This destruction never needs to be repeated. An everlasting punishment is not "everlasting punishing". An everlasting punishment completely destroys. According to the Bible, the wicked are not in a state of everlasting "punishing" forever.

08. According to the Bible, how long does an "Eternal Fire" burn? What example does God give of two cities burned with eternal fire?
Jude 7

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.
Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning now! In fact, they were completely destroyed and, some believe, are under the Dead Sea. The eternal fire of the Bible is one that destroys so completely that it fully consumes.

09. How completely did the eternal fire that came from heaven destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?
2 Peter 2:6

and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
As Sodom and Gomorrah were turned to ashes and destroyed forever, the wicked will be completely destroyed, never to live again.

10. How does the prophet describe the fire that consumed Jerusalem?
Jeremiah 17:27

“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.” ’ ”
Jerusalem was destroyed by an unquenchable fire that human hands could not put out. It totally destroyed Jerusalem. It was unquenchable, yet Jerusalem is not burning today. An unquenchable fire is one that totally destroys.

11. What happens to the wicked that are consumed in the fires of "hell"?
Revelation 20:9

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.
Some Christians misunderstand the expression "for ever and ever" in Revelation 20:10. In the Bible the expression "for ever and ever" does not mean endless existence, it literally means until the end of the age or the end of a given period [i.e. when the fire has completed it's task]. Here are some biblical examples of "for ever." The slave was to serve his master "for ever" (meaning as long as he was useful to his master, Exodus 21:6). Samuel was to serve in the Temple forever (1 Samuel 1:22, 28), or as long as he lived. Jonah was in the belly of the whale "forever" (to Jonah it must have seemed like forever! Jonah 2:6). The Bible does not contradict itself. The wicked are consumed or totally devoured. They exist in the flames "as long as they can live" or as long as it takes for the fire to complete it's task. A new age dawns when suffering and sorrow are no more.

12. What is the ultimate fate of the earth?
2 Peter 3:13

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

13. Will the flames of hell consume this planet forever? What will God finally do with sorrow, suffering and pain?
Revelation 21:4–5

04. 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.”
05. Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

14. Will sin ever rise up again?
Nahum 1:15

Behold, on the mountains The feet of him who brings good tidings, Who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, Perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.

15. What is the fate of Satan and His followers?
Obadiah 16

For as you drank on My holy mountain, So shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been.

16. What is God's urgent appeal to all of humanity?
Ezekiel 18:32

For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!
A loving God longs for His children to turn to Him for salvation. He does not want one person to be lost. He reaches out in tender mercy to save you today. The choice is yours! Where will you spend eternity? Every man, woman, and child must decide. There is only one sensible choice. Choose today to spend eternity with Christ, rejoicing in the new earth.

Concluding Question
It is clear for us to understand from the Bible that sin destroys and Jesus is our savior. Would you like to choose today to spend eternity with Jesus, rejoicing in the newly created earth?

Consider the following Bible passages:
- The wicked will be destroyed (Psalms 145:20).
- The soul is not immortal; it can be destroyed (Matthew 10:28).
- When the Bible uses the word "soul" it either is describing something we are (a living being) or something we have (life). (see Genesis 2:7; Ezekiel 10:4; James 1:2; Psalm 23:3; Psalm 142:4; Matthew 16:26).
- The wicked will be consumed (Psalm 59:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).
- The fires of hell originate in God's eternal righteous character (Revelation 20:9).
- The wicked are reserved to judgment. Hell is not a hot spot burning in the center of the earth. It is the final destruction of the wicked at the end of time (1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).
- The enemies of God are totally burned up or consumed (Psalm 97:3; 2 Peter 3:10).