I came across an article from a popular online Christian website. The article tries to answer the question, “Will people spend eternity in hell?” The author desperately tries to reconcile the thought of a loving God and a God who will punish His children forever in hell! To make things worse, the article went on to say that people who haven’t given the chance to learn about God’s ways should also be part of hell’s punishment. (Be sure to read the article, “Is it true that all non-Christians will go to hell.”)
As I was reading the article, I felt sorry and sad for the author and all Christians out there who believe that God will burn people forever in hell. As expected, you can’t adequately defend a teaching that is not rooted in the Bible. Try as hard as you can, but you can’t justify the idea of God burning people forever in hell.
The doctrine of an ever-burning fire has turned off a lot of people down the century. Among them is Charles Darwin. In his private autobiography, he wrote:
“Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete…I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so, the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe…will be everlastingly punished. And this is a DAMNABLE doctrine” (quoted by Paul Martin, The Healing Mind: The Vital Links Between Brain and Behavior, Immunity and Disease, 1997, p. 327).
Sad but true. What if Darwin did not believe the horrific teachings of the majority of Christians? Maybe, he would not question God’s love and come up with the Theory of Evolution that has led many dictators and tyrants to believe that human life is as insignificant as the life of a cockroach and worm.
The most graphic description of hell was written by Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan minister. He used his sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to scare people into obedience. (If you are not familiar with the sermon, please do a quick Google search.) But in most cases, the opposite happened. Many even fell into depression and tried to take away their lives as a result of frustration and despair. Some became militant atheists and opposed the idea of God’s benevolence and existence.
Thankfully, the Bible reveals that God will NOT burn people forever in hell. Here are five surprising biblical proofs.
Proof number 1: God is love
The Bible reveals that God is love. However, many people paint Him as an unloving, anger, and sadistic God. We read in the Bible that God is love.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (I John 4:8).
This verse along with other passages (I John 4:7, 9-10, 16; John 3:16; I John 4:19; Romans 5:8; I Corinthians 13; and others just to name a few) prove that GOD IS LOVE and that is exactly what He is. Every thought, word, and action of God are motivated by love.
Now, is it possible for a loving God to burn people forever in hell? Of course, not! It runs contrary to His very nature. We read in I 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.”
God is not just loving, but also merciful. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalms 3:10). Ezekiel 18:32 adds, “’For I have NO pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”
Proof number 2: The penalty of sin is DEATH
Now, here’s a problem with the twisted and unbiblical teaching of ever-burning hell. They can’t explain Romans 6:23.
“For the wages of sin is DEATH, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Did you just read that? It says that the wages of sin is death! The Greek word for death here is Thanatos, literally means death, the cessation of life. Romans 6:23 does not tell us that the wages of sin is eternal life in hell! We can’t read that in Romans or in any part of the Bible.
God is obvious. He gives eternal life to His saints and death to the wicked. To think that people will be burned in hell not just an hour, week, month, or year, but for eternity is not just SATANIC but also contradictory to what the Bible really says!
Proof number 3: The wicked will instantly be burned up!
If the wicked will not be burned in hell, am I saying that they will never be punished? Absolutely not! Here’s the astonishing truth that most Christians don’t know. The wicked will be burned in hell not forever but within a very short period of time! The wicked will be consumed entirely in just a few moments.
Here’s the proof. Let’s read Malachi 4:1-3:
“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.
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.
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.
Malachi 4 is a prophecy talking about the Great Day of God when He will finally destroy the wicked. They will not be forever dancing, screaming, and suffering in hell, but they will be consumed instantaneously by the heat of the fire and become ashes.
Proof no. 4: The wicked will be destroyed in hell
If there’s one Person we should trust, it should be Jesus (Yahshua) the Messiah. From His mouth, we read about the truth. What did He say about those who willingly disobey God? He said:
“And 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” (Matthew 10:28).
There’s no escaping the fact that God will surely destroy the wicked people and not let them forever live in hell. Mathew 10:28 also shows something that most Christians utterly fail to understand: there’s no such thing as an immortal soul. Christ is saying that the soul can be destroyed.
Christ was telling His audience here that when a man kills another man, the resulting death is temporary. God has the power to raise the dead. However, when God destroys a person in hell, the resulting death is eternal.
Proof no. 5: There’s no immortal soul
Part of the teaching of an ever-burning hell is the immortal soul. Some pastors and theologians teach that immediately after a person dies, he will either go up to heaven and enjoy paradise or be thrown into the lake of fire and there suffer for all eternity. Is this true? Does the dead continue on as some kind of a ghost having its own consciousness or a spirit roaming around in heaven, earth, or hell? Is there really an immortal soul?
Even if you go through the Bible, from cover to cover, you will never read the phrase “immortal soul.” In fact, you will read scriptures that contradict this popular doctrine.
When we die, King Solomon tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is NO work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” King Solomon was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write that when we die, we are like in a state of sleep. We are unconscious. We don’t have any knowledge of the things of the living. This is supported by Psalms 146:4.
Ezekiel 18:20 makes it very clear:
“The soul who sins shall die.”
So, instead of having an immortal soul that enables the wicked to be burned up in hell forever, people will die a physical death and cease to exist. They will lose any consciousness and will stay in the grave until the future resurrection of the dead.
God is love, merciful, and just. Imagine if the doctrine of ever-burning hell is true, then how can the people who were saved receive the thought of seeing their loved ones burning forever in hell? How can God endure the sight of hundreds of people being burned alive without end?
Thankfully, the popular teaching of ever-burning hell is FALSE. As a matter of fact, it is a diabolic teaching inspired by Satan to make people hate God and turn away from Him. If you want to learn more about this vital topic, please request your free copy, “Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?”
I hope you now understand the truth. Please share this wonderful and awesome truth to other people who might be confused. Knowing this great truth about hell and the punishment of the wicked gives us the assurance that God is truly a loving and merciful God. His law and word are perfect. We can have the confidence that we are worshiping and serving a God with great compassion and wisdom.
Here’s a recommended Amazon book that you might find interesting:
Author: Karen Armstrong
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars (231 customer reviews)
One of the most original thinkers on the role of religion in the modern world—author of such acclaimed books as A History of God, Islam, and Buddha—now gives us an impassioned and practical book that can help us make the world a more compassionate place.
Karen Armstrong believes that while compassion is intrinsic in all human beings, each of us needs to work diligently to cultivate and expand our capacity for compassion. Here, in this straightforward, thoughtful, and thought-provoking book, she sets out a program that can lead us toward a more compassionate life.
The twelve steps Armstrong suggests begin with “Learn About Compassion” and close with “Love Your Enemies.” In between, she takes up “compassion for yourself,” mindfulness, suffering, sympathetic joy, the limits of our knowledge of others, and “concern for everybody.” She suggests concrete ways of enhancing our compassion and putting it into action in our everyday lives, and provides, as well, a reading list to encourage us to “hear one another’s narratives.” Throughout, Armstrong makes clear that a compassionate life is not a matter of only heart or mind but a deliberate and often life-altering commingling of the two. (Grab your copy here.)