Hell, Pt. 1

Scripture: Matthew 10:28, 2 Peter 2:6, Ezekiel 18:32
Is it true that hell will burn forever? Will God burn sinners through the ceaseless ages of eternity? What is the purpose of hell? This Bible talk delves deeply into Scripture on this topic.
When you post, you agree to the terms and conditions of our comments policy.
If you have a Bible question for Pastor Doug Batchelor or the Amazing Facts Bible answer team, please submit it by clicking here. Due to staff size, we are unable to answer Bible questions posted in the comments.
To help maintain a Christian environment, we closely moderate all comments.

  1. Please be patient. We strive to approve comments the day they are made, but please allow at least 24 hours for your comment to appear. Comments made on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday may not be approved until the following Monday.

  2. Comments that include name-calling, profanity, harassment, ridicule, etc. will be automatically deleted and the invitation to participate revoked.

  3. Comments containing URLs outside the family of Amazing Facts websites will not be approved.

  4. Comments containing telephone numbers or email addresses will not be approved.

  5. Comments off topic may be deleted.

  6. Please do not comment in languages other than English.

Please note: Approved comments do not constitute an endorsement by the ministry of Amazing Facts or by Pastor Doug Batchelor. This website allows dissenting comments and beliefs, but our comment sections are not a forum for ongoing debate.

Announcer: It's time now for "Bible Talk." Join our hosts, Gary Gibbs and John Bradshaw, speakers for the Amazing Facts Ministry, as they now open the Bible and discuss themes that affect your life today. Stay tuned because the next 15 minutes will deepen your understanding of God's Word.

John Bradshaw: Hello, friends, and welcome again to "Bible Talk." I'm John Bradshaw, with me is Gary Gibbs, and this is where we take Bible subjects that affect us today, get to the heart of the matter and find out what the Bible really says and how it really speaks to us where we are.

Today, Gary, we're going to begin another series of studies, this time, dealing with another subject that affects every one of us, the subject of hellfire.

Gary Gibbs: You could say it's a hot topic, John.

John: And a topic that a lot of people just find flat out scary or depressing or ominous.

Gary: Recently, in fact, there was a survey taken. Sixty-four percent of the people surveyed believe in hell, 25 percent did not believe in hell, nine percent don't even know, but they'd like to know what and where is hell.

John: Do you think this is a subject that really needs to be dark and somber or is there some good news in this?

Gary: Well, there's a lot of good news when you look at it from the biblical perspective. If you're not looking at it from the Bible, it can be very depressing.

John: I've met people, and I'm sure you have, too, that find the subject depressing. Let me tell you about one lady I met, her name is Mary Ellen. As I met Mary Ellen for the first time, I could tell that there was something about her that was just - well, it was a little different. I'll tell you why.

Her hair was styled differently, the makeup she was wearing, it was just different. She was wearing jewelry that was a little different; I guess is the word I'm going to use. And, again, just the way she was dressed, was all a little bit different. And so I talked to her a little bit more and we got to talking about our belief in God.

And, she said to me, "You know, John, I don't go to church any more." Then she said, "Well, I sort of do." I wanted to learn more, obviously. She told me that, as a child, she was raised in a hellfire and brimstone spitting church, she named the denomination, which I don't need to do now. She told me that every Sunday, the preacher would talk about hellfire and, if you weren't saved, you would burn forever and ever and ever and even little babies would burn forever.

And Mary Ellen said to me, she said, "John, I got to the point where I decided that if that's what God is like, I'd be better off without Him." She turned her back on Jesus; she turned her back on Christianity; she became a practicing witch, which explained the funny way she was dressed, the jewelry and the makeup. Mary Ellen found something about this topic so depressing and dark that it drove her, many people have had this experience, drove her right out of the doors of the church and she has never been back.

Gary: I've met several people like that. In fact, one of the greatest atheists or agnostics to ever live, Robert Ingersoll, had the same experience.

John: Charles Darwin wrote how he was driven away from God by the thought that God would torture people all throughout eternity. Now, we're not about to tell people that there is no hell, I don't think. What does the Bible say on this subject?

Gary: Well, there's definitely a hell. In fact, Jesus talks about it several times. In Matthew 10:28, he said, "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."

John: So, there's a hell all right.

Gary: Definitely. In Matthew 5, Verse 30, He said, "Your whole body will be cast into hell." So, there's definitely a hell to shun.

John: Mary Ellen was told that but led her to the point where she shunned Jesus. Let's try to get to the bottom of what this hell is really like. Jesus said it exists, it's, obviously, hot, there's going to be some flames. I think as we talk today, we'll find out just how hot hell actually is. Is this something, like my friend was told, that burns without ceasing forever and ever and ever? What do we read in the Bible, Gary?

Gary: John, when I grew up, I was told hell was a place in the center of the earth that was boiling melting lava, that the Devil was in charge of hell, that he was a little man down there in a red Lycra suit, with a pitchfork and a barbed tail and that he was in charge of hellfire.

But, as you look at what the Scripture says, it doesn't depict as hell, going on in the center of the earth, as this boiling, flaming place where all the dead souls and spirits go. The Bible says that hell happens at the end of time and it tells us that, while there is a fire, the fire has a purpose.

John: OK, let's talk about that purpose for a while. What's going to take place? What's the fire going to do?

Gary: Well, let me ask you, who goes into hellfire?

John: The lost people.

Gary: Lost people. And so, the Bible says, the wages of sin is what?

John: The wages of sin, Roman 6, Verse 23, is death.

Gary: Is death. Now, Scripture says there are two deaths. There's the first death that all of us die but there's also the second death and that's the final judgment of death and that's what happens in hellfire.

And so, we have to look at that and we have to say, well, what happens in hellfire? You go to Malachi, Chapter 4, and you find, "For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly, will be stubble." Now, John, that's not the stubble like you have on your face today.

John: No, sure.

Gary: You didn't shave this morning, did you?

John: No, stubble, this is a prop for our study today, you see.

Gary: OK, so stubble is referring to when the agricultural people, back in the time of Malachi, would harvest their groups, they would leave the little stubs of the stalks of grain. And then, as they prepared for the next crop to come, they would actually set it on fire and it would burn the field off and clean it all up.

I used to live in Mississippi when they would harvest the cotton and you would see all the stubble left after they harvested the cotton and then they would light the fields and you'd see hundreds of acres on fire. They would burn it all down, turn it into ashes, and then they could plow it and plant a new crop.

Well, notice here, in Malachi 4, it says, "All the wicked will be like stubble." Then it goes on and says, "And the day which is coming, shall burn them up, says the Lord of Hosts," referring to the wicked. "It will burn them up."

And then, Verse one says, it goes on and says, "It wills them neither root nor branch. You shall trample the wicked for they shall be ashes under the souls of your feet on the day that I do this, says the Lord of Hosts."

John: So, according to the Bible - at least what you've been telling me here the Bible says - hell will burn and the wicked will be in there, but eventually they will be reduced to ashes.

Gary: And ashes.

John: Where does this leave the idea that I was told as a child, and probably you were too, that if you're not good and you're not saved you're going to burn forever and ever and ever? It's not there, is it?

Gary: No, it's not. The effect of the fire is eternal, and we can look at some texts that say exactly that thing. For instance, Jude, Chapter 1, is referring to Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? They were exceedingly wicked cities in the Old Testament period.

It says there, "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." The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example of eternal fire, the fire that burns.

And then in Second Peter 2, Verse 6, tells us what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah. "God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, and made an example to those who afterward would live ungodly."

John: If Sodom and Gomorrah is an example as to what is going to happen to the wicked, and Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes, that leads us in a very definite direction. There's a passage in the Book of Ezekiel, and I wonder if you can look at that for us.

Gary: Are you thinking of Ezekiel 28?

John: Doesn't it talk about what happens to the devil?

Gary: Satan himself. It says, "I destroyed you, O covering cherub, therefore I brought fire from your midst. It devoured you and I turned you to ashes upon the earth."

John: Even the devil, according to the Bible, is going to be reduced to ashes. Not even the devil will burn forever and ever.

Gary: God never designed for wickedness to exist. We've been in this period where sin has existed, and God has allowed it to exist, to give mankind a choice and a chance to come back to Him. Finally, one day will come where everyone has made their decision, and God is going to totally wipe sin and every remembrance of sin out from this planet. He's going to burn up even the devil himself.

When I was growing up, there were alleys behind our house. On the way back from school, we always had to walk by this one place where there was this exceedingly mad and angry dog. He was ferocious and we were always afraid of that part, that place, in the alley. I would often walk around and take the long route home because I didn't even want to walk by that bad dog. But, my brother one day walked by there and the dog got loose and bit him and chewed him up.

Well, just think. If Satan were allowed to exist forever in some corner of the universe, the fear that that would put into our hearts. We would always avoid that corner of the universe because this mad dog - this devil - would be there. We would be fearful of what he could do to us.

John: It's probably a good idea to consider what the purpose of hellfire is. Why is God even going to go to the trouble of lighting this fire? What's it for, Gary? Can you tell us that?

Gary: It is to rectify what sin has caused. Number one, it is a punishment. "The wages of sin is death." And all the pain and suffering that the unrepentant have caused to others, they will feel that as the fires of hell burn them. All the accumulated pain they have caused, they will reap what they have sown in the fires of hell. So, even though it consumes them to ashes, it is very painful.

John: I imagine! Even a small burn on your fingertip can hurt for days or a week.

Gary: But they will only reap what they've sown. So if they have caused a certain amount of pain, they're going to reap that back in themselves. When that is done, then God is just. Their punishment is over and they will be consumed into ashes. It's to set things right. It's justice.

The second thing it is designed to do is to wipe off the face of the earth all traces of sin. One day, according to Revelation 22:22, God is going to recreate the heavens in the earth. Right here on this planet, He will establish His throne. So the sin and wickedness has to be destroyed and totally eliminated.

John: I remember a few years ago, I was living in England at the time. And it was right at the time, they had the first real mad cow disease scare; the first real big one. There were vegetarians popping up all over Great Britain overnight. But, anyhow, you will know as well as I do that the end of that thing was they had to try to get rid of mad cows disease. What did they do? They had to get rid of the cows; didn't they? As traumatic as that was, hundreds of thousands of cattle were destroyed, eliminated, because they were trying to get rid of this disease.

It seems to me that God, in his desire to get rid of the disease of sin, is going to finally eradicate and eliminate sinners. The flames of hellfire will reduce these sinners, and sin itself, to ashes.

Gary: This isn't anything God enjoys. The Bible says, in Ezekiel 18:32, "I have no pleasure in the death of those who die."

John: That's a good point, because a lot of preachers will have you think that God is doing this because he is deriving some sort of satisfaction.

Gary: He isn't. That's where you have the good news of Hell: God is simply putting out of existence the wicked. They will not suffer forever and ever.

John: And sin will never rise up again. We can thank God for that. Hellfire, while certainly a serious business and not the sort of thing any of us wants to be involved in, is truthfully a revelation of the love of God.

We'll talk more about this next time. Don't miss it. Join us again on Bible Talk.

Announcer: If you'd like more information on what we've been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide we'd love to share with you that's absolutely free. This study includes many of the texts we've just discussed and expands on the subject, including information you'll want to know. To receive this free, informative Bible study guide, simply call, write or email, and ask for BT111: "Is the Devil in Charge of Hell?" The toll-free number is 866-BIBLE-SAYS. That's 866-242-5372. You can write to us at Bible Talk, P.O. Box 1058, Roseville, California 95678, or email us at bibletalk@amazingfacts.org. Bible Talk has been produced in association with Amazing Facts in the studios of Life Talk Radio.

Share a Prayer Request
Ask a Bible Question



Prayer Request:

Share a Prayer Request


Bible Question:

Ask a Bible Question