Hell, the Lake of Fire and Universalism Part 7
Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics

Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
September 22, 1997

Last Updated :
February 11, 2012

The Fate Of Satan Rebellious Angels Demons And Wicked People, Death And Separation Of Body And Spirit, God's Purpose For The Lake Of Fire, Destruction Or Everlasting Punishment And Torment?, Will A God Of Love Condemn Billions To Suffer For Eternity?, How Will Saved People Cope With Their Lost Loved Ones Suffering For Eternity In Lake Of Fire?, Snuffed Out Of Existence?, No Memory Or Consciousness In The Grave, Lazarus The Beggar, A God Of Love Versus A God Of Wrath And Revenge, Rejecting Scriptural Truth Can Lead Us To Strong Delusion, God Does Not Afflict Willingly, No Pleasure In The Death Of The Wicked, God's Desires Everyone To Repent And To Be Saved, Universalism, Total Annihilation Or Universal Reconciliation?, Thanatos And The Second Death, Dust To Dust, Millennial Reign, First And Second Resurrections, Great White Throne Judgment

Returning to our topic concerning Satan, his angels and other demons of darkness, as I asked in part six, what exactly will be their fate when the Lord casts them into the Lake of Fire? Furthermore, what will happen to the wicked, unsaved people who are cast into the Lake of Fire as well? Will these wicked beings and people really be destroyed, or is it possible that something else will occur to them? Can we be certain that we have fully understood God's plan at this current time?

As we saw earlier, God's Word teaches us that at the moment of our death and our departure from this current life, the Lord separates our body from our spirit. Our body then decays in the ground, and over time breaks down into its original components, while our spirit -- or life force, the breath of life -- returns to God who gave it. Obviously, being as they are spirits and not physical flesh and blood beings as we are, the same thing cannot happen to Satan and his minions.

While I have considered the possibility that these spiritual entities may somehow experience annihilation after they are cast into the Lake of Fire, both Jesus and the Apostle John seem to suggest that the real purpose of the Lake of Fire is not to completely destroy Satan and other demons of darkness, or even to totally destroy rebellious humans either; at least not all of them. Rather, the following verses seem to suggest that God desires to accomplish some other objective which has remained hidden from -- or perhaps simply ignored by -- many modern Christians.

"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels . . . And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal."
Matthew 25:41, 46, KJV

"And 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 for ever and ever."
Revelation 20:10, KJV

As you can see, Jesus speaks of "everlasting fire" as well as "everlasting punishment", while John speaks of "the lake of fire and brimstone" and being "tormented day and night for ever and ever." Assuming that "everlasting fire" and "the lake of fire and brimstone" are referring to the same place, then neither verse clearly speaks of the Lake of Fire being a place of absolute destruction for the wicked, or for Satan and his angels. Rather, it is a terrible place where "everlasting punishment" and "torment" will be meted out "for ever and ever."

Several verses later in Revelation chapter twenty, we read the following verses as well:

"And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 20:13-15, KJV

Similar to many other Christians, I have long been challenged by the concept of a loving, merciful, patient God, who on one hand desires that all men will be saved -- 2 Peter 3:9 -- and who was even willing to sacrifice His own beloved Son in order to achieve this noble goal, and yet on the other hand, would condemn countless millions, if not billions, to suffer in a horrible place of torment for eternity, if they choose to not accept the Atoning Sacrifice of His Son as a just ransom for their sins. Furthermore, I have asked myself how those of us who are saved could possibly and fully enjoy Heaven and the Heavenly City, knowing all the while that some of our loved ones are being tormented forever and ever, as a result of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Have you ever wrestled with this seeming contradiction?

After searching the Scriptures and contemplating this issue for a while, I arrived at several possibilities. The first one -- for which I can provide no Scriptural support at this current time -- was that, in His Mercy, God would erase our memories, so that we would no longer remember our separated loved ones who are suffering eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. The second possibility, which I briefly talk about in such articles as "God's Mercy, Judgment and Fallen Angels", "The Great Tribulation and the Rapture" and "What Really Happens When We Die?", is that people who are cast into the Lake of Fire following the Great White Throne Judgment are simply snuffed out of existence. One verse which seems to support this view is the following:

"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
Matthew 10:28, KJV

As we saw in part two of this series, in the previous verse, the word "hell" is translated from the Greek word "Ghehenna"; which, as I already explained, was a reference to the Valley of Hinnom, which I believe was a archetype or foreshadow of the actual Lake of Fire. In other words, by being snuffed out of existence -- both body and spirit -- these incorrigible people would not suffer any pain or torment whatsoever; they would simply cease to exist. Their demise would be final. It would be the Second Death. Furthermore, as we are told in the following verses, in death, there is no memory or conscious state:

"For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"
Psalms 6:5, KJV

"Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?"
Psalms 88:12, KJV

"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; or there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
Ecclesiastes 9:10, KJV

Thus, as in the first mortal death of the physical body, so too in the eternal Second Death . . . at least so I assumed. In other words, after everyone is raised from the dead at the time of the Second Resurrection, if their name is not found written in the Lamb's Book of Life during the Great White Throne Judgment, they will simply die again, and that will be the end of them.

However, as you may have already determined, this view does not agree with the verses that we examined earlier where the Lord Himself talks about "everlasting punishment", and the Apostle John speaks about being "tormented day and night for ever and ever." In fact, if you recall the story of Lazarus the Beggar, which is found in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, in that Parable, Jesus likewise informs us that hell is a place of torment, that is filled with flames, as we see here:

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
Luke 16:19-31, KJV

In the previous Parable, the word "torment" is mentioned four times, while the word "flame" is mentioned once. Just as the word "tormented" is derived from the Greek word "basanizo" in the phrase "tormented day and night for ever and ever", as we find it in the Book of Revelation, so too, in the previous verses from the Gospel of Luke, the various forms of the word "torment" are also derived from the Greek word "basanos", and refer to pain. It seems evident then that Jesus and John are talking about the same thing and the same place. They are both describing a place where there will be pain and torment of some kind. Of course, this shouldn't surprise us, being as it was Jesus who passed along the Book of Revelation to John via His Angelic Messenger.

In light of all of this Scriptural evidence, how do we find agreement and unity between these various verses and words? Do people who are cast into the Lake of Fire die permanently and altogether? Are they totally snuffed out of existence, and is this what the Second Death really means? Or do they somehow remain alive and suffer eternal torment in literal flames, as is commonly believed according to the general understanding of the word "hell"? Is our God of Love who sent His Son to die for the sins of the world, likewise a God of Wrath and Revenge who enjoys watching those people who refuse to repent of their unbelief, suffer for all of eternity in a literal place called "hell", that is filled with flames that really hurt?

While we can foolishly try to rationalize in our minds, and attempt to explain away this very negative image of God, we simply cannot -- and should not -- ignore the truth of the Scriptures; because to purposely ignore the truth of God's Word is to invite deception and strong delusion into our lives. The following sample verses -- and there exist many more -- describe in plain language the other side of God's Nature, which many people -- including some Christians -- refuse to acknowledge:

"To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."
Deuteronomy 32:35, KJV

"O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself."
Psalms 94:1, KJV

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;"
Isaiah 61:1-2, KJV

"God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies."
Nahum 1:2, KJV

"But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?"
Romans 3:5-6, KJV

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
Romans 12:19, KJV

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;"
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9, KJV

"For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
Hebrews 10:30, KJV

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Jude 1:7, KJV

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God . . . For our God is a consuming fire."
Hebrews 10:31, 12:29, KJV

"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
John 3:36, KJV

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
Romans 1:18, KJV

"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
Ephesians 5:6, KJV

"And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?"
Revelation 6:16-17, KJV

"The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb . . . And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God."
Revelation 14:10, 19, KJV

"And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God . . . And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever."
Revelation 15:1, 7, KJV

"And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth . . . And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath."
Revelation 16:1, 19, KJV

"And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God."
Revelation 19:15, KJV

Please notice that in describing the Wrath and Vengeance of Almighty God, the previous verses include such phrases as "flaming fire", "everlasting destruction", "eternal fire" and "consuming fire". Clearly, some kind of fire -- perhaps both physical and symbolic -- plays a central role in God's ultimate plan for humanity. While our God of Love is also a God of Wrath and Vengeance, what we also need to remember is that the Bible informs us that He does not afflict willingly. As we saw earlier, He truly desires that men come to a state of repentance and belief; but if they don't, then as Jesus Himself tells us, the Wrath of God will abide upon them by their own proud, stubborn choice. The following verses make it rather clear that the Lord's earnest desire is not really to destroy, but rather to heal:

"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Ezekiel 33:11, KJV

"For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies. For he doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."
Lamentations 3:31-33, KJV

"And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village."
Luke 9:51-56, KJV

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
2 Peter 3:9, KJV

"And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
Hebrews 12:5-13, KJV

Taking the previous verses into consideration, while I am not in a position to provide a definitive answer regarding the significance of the Second Death and the Lake of Fire, and the final fate of those people who are cast therein, I would like to offer you some additional comments which may throw more light on this difficult subject. As we have now seen, God's desire is for all men to be saved. There is a school of thought within Christianity which in fact is of the opinion that someday, in God's time, all of humanity will indeed be saved. This rather controversial doctrine is referred to as Universalism -- or Universal Reconciliation -- and has been in existence since at least the Seventeenth Century. The Apostle Paul discusses this reconciliation between God and man in verses such as the following:

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."
Romans 5:8-11, KJV

"For if the casting away of them [the Jews] be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
Romans 11:15, KJV

"And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:18-20, KJV

"And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:"
Ephesians 2:16, KJV

"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"
Colossians 1:20-22, KJV

"Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;"
Hebrews 2:17-3:1, KJV

Several times in this series now, I have questioned whether God's ultimate objective in creating the Lake of Fire is the complete and total destruction of Satan and the rebellious angels and other spirits who follow him, as well as people who are seemingly incorrigible, or if perhaps the Lord may have some other goal in mind. In other words, is God really interested in total annihilation, or is He really interested in Universal Reconciliation? Which of these two objective is more in agreement with what we know about God's loving and caring Nature? If it is the latter, then perhaps we need to take a closer look at the meaning of the Second Death, as it is used in the following verses:

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death."
Revelation 2:11, KJV

"Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
Revelation 20:6, KJV

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death."
Revelation 20:14, KJV

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Revelation 21:8, KJV

It may interest you to know that in all four of the previous verses, the word "death" is derived from the very same Greek word that we studied in part four of this series; that is, the word "thanatos". As I explained earlier, this word refers to the actual process of dying. More specifically, Thayer's Greek English Lexicon indicates that "thanatos" concerns the death of the body, and the actual separation of the soul and the body at the time of death. The fact that this Greek word is used in conjunction with the phrase "the Second Death" is very telling. Why? Because it tells us what happens at the time of the Second Death.

If you still haven't understood the significance of this, let me explain. As I have told you several times now, at the time of our death, our body and spirit -- or soul, if you prefer -- are separated by God. Our body returns to the ground where it decays and is converted back into its original elements, or dust -- unless we have arranged to be cremated -- while our spirit returns to God. Here again is the verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes which verifies this point:

"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Ecclesiastes 12:7, KJV

The fact that people who are not found in the Lamb's Book of Life undergo something that is called the Second Death in the Book of Revelation, suggests that they experience a process that is very similar to their first death. How can this be? Quite simply, because as I explain in such articles as "From Armageddon to the New Earth", this very same Book informs us that sometime after the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ and the Saints concludes, the rest of the world's people will be brought back to life during the Second Resurrection, so that they can be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment, as we see by these verses:

"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And 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 for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works."
Revelation 20:4-13, KJV

Just as our bodies and spirits are separated at the moment of death at the end of our natural lives, in similar fashion, the bodies and spirits of the rest of the world -- that is, those people who do not participate in the First Resurrection -- will be reunited at the time of the Second Resurrection, in order to be judged before the Lord. That is why they will experience a Second Death if their names are not found in the Lamb's Book of Life. That is why their bodies and spirits will be separated again, a second time. While it appears that their physical bodies will be destroyed, what will happen to their spirits? As I stated earlier, this is where the belief in Universalism -- or Universal Reconciliation -- enters the picture.

Please go to part eight for the conclusion of this series.

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