Fate of the Wicked

Scripture: Proverbs 11:31, Daniel 7:26-27, Revelation 19:17-21
Most people believe in hell, but what it is and when it happens and how it works leaves many wondering if it is a real place. What does the Bible say about hell and the wicked?
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Today we shall talk about what will become of the wicked after the fires of God have burned them in this earth. Where will they spend eternity? Theology calls the place "hell." Men talk glibly of that place and often utter the word as an invective to give vent to feelings of anger.

The Bible has much to say about the future of the wicked. That we as Christians must accept the teachings of Jesus Christ goes without saying; but as for theology, well, that may have to go overboard if not consistent with Bible teachings. You will find from our study today that men have invented a fantastic fabricated doctrine about the wicked dead which has no confirmation in the Bible at all.

Now, Jesus declared upon one occasion: "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." Matthew 7:13, 14. And further, from the teachings of Jesus: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32. Therefore, my friends, if we accept the teaching of Jesus Christ, we must consequently understand that the majority of the world's inhabitants will be lost. This is a sad picture indeed, especially in view of the fact that salvation is free, and all God's power is offered in its plenitude to save men.

But this picture becomes horribly tragic and revolting when the theology is accepted which consigns all the lost to writhe and scream in an eternal hell fire in indescribable pain. If this theology is true, then throughout all eternity we will have the majority of earth's inhabitants from all ages of its history suffering the most exquisite pain and torture in a fearful hell of fire and brimstone, time without end.

Now let us examine the Word of God to see what it teaches on the future punishment of the wicked. Remember, we are told that "God is love." The wise man in Proverbs 11:31 declares, "The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." Jesus said, "The meek shall inherit the earth." Matthew 5:5. Clearly, these statements are not intended to convey the idea that all the reward men will receive is what they get out of this life. In the first place, in this present world a meek man has a difficult time holding on to what he does have. Jesus must, therefore, refer to some future day. But we wish to emphasize that both saint and sinner will be rewarded upon the earth. A few passages of Scripture will confirm this. We turn first to Daniel 7:26, 27:

"But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." Notice, "the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High." Thus the everlasting kingdom shall be upon the earth. With this agrees John in Revelation 11:15, where he says, "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever." Language could not be plainer, and we are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that the saints will eventually be recompensed upon the earth, as Solomon declared. He also declared that the wicked and the sinner would be recompensed in the earth. Are we then to have both a hell and a heaven upon this earth at the same time? In that case, most of the earth will be given up to the wicked, for Jesus said they vastly outnumber the saints. No, no, my friends, that is not in God's plan. Let us see what God's plan is. We have learned in previous broadcasts that:

1. All the wicked will be slain when Christ comes the second time, by the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Jeremiah 25:33, and Revelation 19:17-21.

2. These wicked will remain dead until the end of the thousand years.

3. Then they will be resurrected and will be upon the earth again for a little season.

4. At the end of the thousand years, Christ comes the third time to execute judgment upon all the ungodly. Then He brings all the saints down from heaven to earth. Jude 1:14.

The saints are with Him in the holy city as it descends to earth at the end of the thousand years. When Jesus brings this city, He calls forth the wicked to life again, and they arise and cover the earth. Then Jesus descends upon the Mount of Olives, and as His feet touch that mountain, it cleaves apart and becomes a great plain upon which the city rests. See Zechariah 14.

What becomes of the wicked? Fire devours them, says the Word of God. This fire which descends upon the wicked turns the old earth into an inferno, and in this lake of fire, the wicked are devoured. They are not eternally tormented but are destroyed. Revelation 20:11-15. Every wicked man and woman will be rewarded according to his or her works. Revelation 22:12. That is fair. That is just. If all were to be kept burning eternally, all would receive the same punishment, but God says every one will be punished according to his works, which means that some will suffer longer than others, according to the evil of their lives.

Now we read further on this in 2 Peter 3:7, 12, "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. ... Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." Verse 10 says, "The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." Therefore, we see that the earth in which we live today is "reserved unto fire in the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men," which means that when the earth is destroyed by fire, that is the day of perdition of the ungodly. The earth and its works shall be burned up. Then I quote from Isaiah 34:9 on that great event: "The streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch." Again, this time from Malachi 4:1, 3, "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." "Root" (the devil) and "branches" (the wicked) shall become ashes, says the Lord.

Now let us read from the teachings of Jesus on this point in Matthew 13:38-42: "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; 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: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." As tares and weeds are burned in the fire, so shall the wicked be burned. When? "In the end of the world," answers Jesus. Therefore, no one is in a burning hell now. For the wicked are not cast into a furnace of fire until the end of the world, and that, literally, does not come until the end of the thousand years. This is very clearly stated.

Again Jesus has stated, "And these (the wicked) shall go away into everlasting punishment ... ." Matthew 25:46. What is this everlasting punishment? Is it eternal torment in the lake of fire? Let the Bible answer. I now quote from 2 Thessalonians 1:9 concerning the wicked, "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction ... ." Mark it, "destruction." The prophet Obadiah says of the destruction of the wicked, "They shall be as though they had not been." Obadiah 1:16. How could God make it plainer? Anyone who can read eternal torment for the wicked into these scriptures would call a Beethoven symphony a croaking frog pond.

Thus, sin and sinners will be no more. The sinner will be gone forever. His place will be destroyed. Harmony will reign again throughout God's vast domain. The apostle Peter adds, after predicting this great conflagration which will engulf and destroy the present world, "Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." 2 Peter 3:13.

No, my friends, God will not torment the wicked for ever and ever. How could He and still truthfully declare of Himself, "God is love?" God IS love, and He is not a fiend. The doctrine that God will eternally torment the wicked is an invention of the devil to cast reflection upon God and dishonor upon His name. God would save all men if they would only let Him, but they will not. He has purposed to destroy sin and have a clean, harmonious universe, and He lovingly calls men today to separate from their sins that they may escape destruction. But if men will not forsake their sins, it is but a natural consequence that they will be destroyed, since sin is to be destroyed, and they persist in clinging to it. This is the best that a loving God can do, for tears, sorrow, pain, and death must go, and their cause, sin and sinners, must be wiped out. When this has been accomplished, not a note of discord will be heard in all the music of heaven. May God hasten that day and prepare you and me for our future home with Him. God is love, in His dealing with sinners as well as with saints. Friend, believe that God is love and not a fiend no matter what some theologians may say.

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