Hell, Pt. 4

Scripture: Revelation 20:9, Luke 12:47, Exodus 21:6
Is it true that hell will burn forever? There is ultimately an end to the wicked. But doesn't it say in the Bible there torment "forever and forever." This talk digs in deeper to this term "forever and ever." What does the Bible say?
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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: Hi Friends, and welcome again to Bible Talk where we talk about the Bible and find out what the Bible has to say on subjects that affect us today. I'm John Bradshaw and with me is Gary Gibbs.

Gary, lately we've been taking a journey through some important, some powerful Bible subjects. Lately, we've been dealing with the subject of Hell fire and we've learned some fascinating things.

Gary Gibbs: Probably one of the most controversial topics in the Bible. In fact John, a couple of years ago a man wrote a book about the "fire that consumes." I forget which denominational background he had. But, boy that sparked the fire of controversy in the churches. Because he taught exactly what the Bible says and what we've been talking about here on Bible Talk that the Hell fire actually destroys the wicked and consumes them into ashes.

John: They don't continue to burn forever. OK, let's, get back to that point. There's a couple of things I want to put to you today that I think will challenge you a little bit.

Firstly, let's review some. Where's it going to be and where does the Bible talk about that.

Gary: Revelation 20:9 tells us that Hell fire will take place on the face of this planet. All the wicked will one day be resurrected together and the final judgment will take place. They will be burned together simultaneously on the face of this planet.

John: As the earth is cleansed one final time just like it was cleansed in the days of Noah.

Gary: Exactly.

John: OK, when will that take place?

Gary: That takes place at the end of this earth. Matthew 13, Jesus made it very clear in verse 39 through 40. He talks about the harvest is the end the world. The reapers are the angels. The tares are the children of the evil one. They'll all be gathered together and they'll be burned at the end of this earth.

John: So, there's no one in Hell right now. Hell is not some place, some hot spot in the center of the earth. OK, we know where, we know when. How long will Hell take place? Quickly review what you've talked about and then let me at you.

Gary: Well, Hell fire will take place as you said at the end of the earth. But, it will take place for as long as it takes to burn the wicked.

There's an interesting text, John in Luke 12:47. There we read, "The servant, which knew his lords will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes."

You've heard "what you reap you'll sow." It comes out of the book of Galatians. Some people obviously are more sinful than others. You have the mass murderer and then you have the other person who just never committed their life to the Lord.

John: However, aren't they both guilty of the same crime and that is the crime of rejecting Jesus?

Gary: Yes, but one committed more sin and caused more pain. So, should he burn less than the one who was just a guy who never gave his life to Jesus? That wouldn't be just or fair, would it?

John: I'm sure there are some too who have had great light and rejected great light and others who haven't had such great light.

Gary: So, God in His infinite wisdom, He's going to put all of this into the mix and He's going to know what the penalty is. Part of this is not just so we get what we deserve. Ultimately the Bible says that even the wicked will confess that God is righteous and true in all of His judgments.

I picture it John, there's that person, that lost person who as they're burning, they realize I caused this much pain. I caused this much sorrow to God and to others? If I did that and I'm un-repented, I deserve to die.

They'll actually confess righteous and true are you, oh Lord, in all your judgments. They'll burn for as long as it is determined by God. But, ultimately there's an end to it and they're consumed with ashes. Now come at me. You said you had several texts now.

John: You strike me, I know you as a man who has read his Bible. If you've read the Bible, you've talked about these texts that talk about the wicked being turned into ashes.

But, I've read the Bible too. I've read in the Bible and a lot of people are going to be listening right now nodding their heads and saying Amen. I've read where the Bible says the wicked will burn forever.

Now, how do you reconcile those two thoughts because these appear to be contradictory thoughts? I'm not suggesting they are because I don't believe the Bible is a book that contradicts itself, but somebody's got some explaining to do. They burn to ashes, they burn forever. You need to get us out of this.

Gary: Now, who has the explaining to do? As you look at Hell fire and you stack-up all the text. You have a whole list of text that talk about the wicked will be consumed into ashes. Into smoke they will be consumed away. Over and over again, text after text. Then you have a few texts and they come out of Revelation mostly. Revelation 14 especially says that the wicked will be tormented with fire and brimstone.

Watch this. You said the Bible says they'll burn forever and ever. Listen to what it really says. The smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever. They have no rest day nor night. Her smoke rises up forever and ever. See, grab a couple of these texts and you have them on one side of the equation and then on the other side you have all those texts that say that they're turned into ashes.

John: Before this sounds to someone like a question of semantics, I want to look at verse 10 in Revelation 20. It says the devil that deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone where the Beast and the False Prophet are and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever. So, this isn't their smoke hanging around forever. Their torment goes on forever and ever.

Gary: OK, so we need to look at what does it means. Obviously, as you said, the Bible doesn't contradict itself. But, there appears to be a contradiction. We can focus in on one view of this or the other, but we need to put them together. They need to harmonize.

John: Tell us how we do that. How do you take two views which appear to be opposed and have them line-up along side each other?

Gary: I think one thing you do is you don't build your doctrine around just one or two verses. You have to look at the big picture.

John: And it's true that with these forever texts, there's not dozens of them. There's just a couple of them.

Gary: Very, very few. So, you have to look at it and say the weight of the evidence here is on the side of the fire consuming the wicked into ashes. So, what does it mean by they'll burn forever and ever? Because the text that clearly says that.

John: Well, doesn't forever mean forever?

Gary: That's where you have to focus. You have to say what does the Bible mean by forever? The word forever in the Bible is often translated until the end of the age and refers to a limited time. In fact, if you go back to Kosinius was a Greek and Hebrew scholar. And we still have his works today on the Old Testament scriptures.

And he said the word forever in the original is always defined from the nature of the thing itself. So in other words if you don't have an eternal body, how can you burn forever and ever. So you have to look at the thing itself that it is referring to.

John: Bottom line. You're saying that forever as it is recorded in the Bible might not mean forever the way we commonly understand that term today.

Gary: Let me give you an example of how it is used elsewhere in the Bible. Exodus 21:6, speaking about a slave. And a slave, of course, is beholden to his master. But there comes a day when he can be released. However, he's married another slave and she's not going to be released. They have children. He doesn't want to be separated from his wife so he voluntarily decides to remain as a slave to his master.

Notice what it says in Exodus 21:6, "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." This is the occasion of pierced ears.

John: OK.

Gary: "Shall pierce his ear with an awl and he shall serve him forever." Now let me ask you a question, John. How long did that slave serve that master in reality?

John: Well, he certainly couldn't serve him forever and ever and ever without ceasing like some promote hell as burning forever and ever and ever. He could only... well, let's be realistic, the longest he could serve him was as long as he lived. And when he died he couldn't serve him any more.

Gary: So his forever is he'll serve him forever then was as long as he lived. That's what you're saying.

John: Yeah. OK, are there any other verses that bring this idea out?

Gary: Jonah 2. Remember the big fish story? Jonah is thrown out of the boat. He is swallowed by a great fish and the Bible says, "I went down to the moorings of the mountains. The earth with its bars closed behind me forever." He felt like he was there in the belly of that fish forever. But how long was he actually in the belly of the fish?

John: The Book of Jonah actually says, three days and three nights. So there very clearly forever doesn't mean forever.

Gary: Unlimited. It was for as long as he was there. I Samuel 1:22.

John: Now this I think might be a real good example.

Gary: Yeah, because here you have Samuel's mother dedicates Samuel to the Lord. And she says, "I will take him, Samuel, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever." Now you go down a few verses, the verse 28, I believe it is.

And she tells us how long that forever was that he would serve the Lord. You know what it says? "Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord as long as he lives, he shall be lent to the Lord."

John: Now, obviously Samuel couldn't remain as a priest in the temple forever and ever and ever for time without end. So again, here forever, I guess it's important that we look at this in the context. Forever means for as long as he as going to live. Alright. Jonah's forever... I guess he said forever because it felt like forever.

I'm sure if I were in the belly of a whale for five minutes I would say it was forever. How do we then come back and look at these texts in Revelation forever the people would suffer torment or whatever?

Gary: It's referring to the effects of that fire. You know you also have this term eternal firm in Jude 1. It's talk about the fire that has an eternal effect. "As Sodom and Gomorrah," verse seven says, "and the cities around them in similar manner to these giving themselves over to sexual immorality and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

And that vengeance of eternal fire was what turned them into ashes according to II Peter 2:6. The forever is referring to the fate of the wicked for when they are destroyed by the fires of hell, it forever destroys them. It wipes them out.

John: You take a piece of paper and burn it with a match, how long does that piece of paper stay burned?

Gary: Forever.

John: It's forever. I also wondered, too, when it talked about eternal fire there's another place where the Bible says you with a fire that cannot be quenched. Now that doesn't sound like a fire that's going to go out.

Gary: It's the fire that God ignites. It will not go out until it doesn't its work. And it destroys the wicked and turns them into ashes. John, before we close here, I need to talk about the forever that applies to the righteous, because the righteous will be given eternal life.

That forever lasts through out the ceaseless ages of eternity because we are given eternal bodies. And we read about that in I Corinthians 15 that we will put on immortality. And because we have eternal bodies we will live forever, but the wicked are never eternal bodies. They are never given immortality. I like John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that who soever believeth in him should not..." what?

John: Perish.

Gary: "...perish but having everlasting life." Those who believe in Jesus are given eternal bodies. They have everlasting life. Those who don't believe in Him will perish in the fires of hell.

John: The wages of sin is death. The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The saved live forever. The unsaved dead forever.

It's been a great study. Join us again next time on Bible Talk. We'll talk about the millennium. You don't want to miss that subject. We're glad you joined us. See you next time on Bible Talk.

John: If you'd like more information on what we have been studying today, we have a comprehensive Bible study guide that we would 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 866BIBLESAYS. 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.

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