If you happen to be one of those not saved and are thrown into the lake of fire, then you can expect your complete existence to be blotted out. You entire past and future will be completely erased, and it will be as if your soul and spirit never even existed.
In the end there are only going to be two types of people. Those that are saved and those that aren't.
So what exactly happens to that second group, the ones on the left who are not saved?
Do they burn in fire for all eternity? What is the real purpose of this everlasting fire? Does it mean that those in it are going to suffer day after day for the rest of eternity? Is a loving God going to make the souls of these people live through an eternity of terrible suffering? A suffering that never ends, never eases up, never lets up, never stops hurting. Will their resurrected bodies with all the senses intact also burn over the eons of time? Would an all loving God allow this kind of suffering to go on through out all of eternity? Could you enjoy heaven for all eternity knowing that your loved ones and others that didn't make it are suffering never ending excruciating torment? Why would God even want to punish so many souls for ever and ever? What would the purpose be for never ending torment? Do you think that an all loving God would take that approach towards those that weren't saved and that didn't make it to heaven?
In the very last chapter of the very last book of the Old Testament, God tells us just what is going to happen to those who do not get saved.
The above verses certainly make it seem like the souls of the unsaved will be thrown into a fire (the lake of fire) and end up totally and completely destroyed with absolutely no chance of ever being resurrected. They will not suffer because neither their bodies or their souls will exist. They will not exist because their bodies as well as their souls would have been burnt up and completely consumed and annihilated by the lake of fire. So the everlasting fire that is talked about simply means that there is absolutely no way that the souls of the unsaved can possibly ever come back into existence. The lake of fire, is the eternal destruction between the lost soul and Jehovah God. That's right, the soul of the lost one will cease to exist and will have absolutely no hope of ever seeing or being with God because that soul would have been completely and totally consumed in the lake of fire. And what is, or who is, this lake of fire? The lake of fire is God himself.
Hebrews 12:29 "For our God is a consuming fire".
But aren't all souls immortal? How can a person's immortal soul be killed or destroyed? Doesn't being immortal mean being able to exist for ever? Matthew 10:28 says something very interesting about the power of God.
"And do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both the soul and the body in hell."
Only God has the power to completely destroy and kill the soul. He has the power and the ability to completely annihilate a lost soul, just as if it had never even existed. That is what the following verses mean when they speak of God blotting out those unsaved souls from the book of life.
Psalms 69:28 "May they be blotted out of the book of life, And may they not be recorded with the righteous."
Revelation 20:15 "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
No where in the Bible does it say that the soul will never die. What it says is that the soul of the believer, the one who believes in Jesus Christ, will never die. There are a great many Bible verses like the following that tells us that.
John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life."
John 8:51 "Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death."
Careful reading of the above two verses shows that there is another possibility other than eternal life. And this other possibility is eternal death.
Lets now look at the definitions for destroy, hell, and death.
1) The definition of destroy is.
To put an end to.
(The word "Destroy" does not mean burning fire)
2) The definition for hell.
Comes from and is derived from the Greek and the Hebrew words "Hades" and "Sheol".
And they both mean "Grave, Tomb, or Pit".
(The word "Hell" does not mean burning fire).
Examples of "Hell" in the scriptures
(The following verse talks about the fallen angels being thrown into pits of dense darkness (Hell) to await their punishment).
2 Peter 2:4--"Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but by throwing them into hell, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment". (Hell is described as a pit of dense darkness.)
In Acts 2:31 The King James Version indicates that at his death, even Jesus went to Hell. Other versions of the Bible have the word Hades in place of hell. Are "hell" and "hades" the same place? Yes they are.
Acts 2:31---He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in Hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. (King James Version)
Acts 2:31---He foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Revised Standard Version)
These verses tell us that Hell or Hades is not flaming fire, but instead Hell or Hades is a Grave or a Pit. (Notice also that while Jesus went to hell or hades, he was not left or abandon there, since he came out of the grave after 3 days).
3) The definition of death is,
Destruction or Extinction.
Death is the absence of life.
(The word "Death" does not mean burning fire).
In Ezekiel 18:4 God says two very interesting things.
First of all, this verse shows that almighty God owns all souls and that he has the power and the ability to completely destroy and annihilate a soul. It may be that our souls are not that immortal and won't be until after the Day of Judgment. This is best shown at Revelation 20:6 which says, "Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority".
Examples of soul destruction and soul death.
Keep in mind that God is not talking about our, fleshy human bodies since they are simply made up of dust and dirt that he scraped up from the earth. God knows that your fleshy earthly body is going to die and turn to dust and you know that your body is going to die and turn to dust. So our soul is what is important. Lets look at:
Also notice the last four words of John 3:16, and the fact that they are directly opposite of the words, "might not be destroyed". Here God is telling us we have but two choices. Either destruction and death, or everlasting life.
Ask yourself another question. What happens when something is thrown into a fire? And the answer to that question is that it is totally and completely consumed and obliterated.
Also notice what Romans 6:23 does not say. It does not say that the wages of sin is eternal life in hell fire. It does not say that that the wages of sin is eternal life in pain and torment. Rather it says that the wages of sin is death, and death is the absence of life.
So the wages of sin is death, not eternal life in pain and torture. The people thrown into the lake of fire would be miserable eternally if they had immortal life, so God mercifully ends their lives, leaving only the "smoke of their torment" to ascend forever. And the torment spoken of here are those final few seconds of existence that each lost soul has as it is being hurled into the lake of fire.
And if you really think about it, not one of us would like to see another person spend the rest of eternity in pain and torment. Even the most ruthless and evil person on earth would not want another person to never, ever stop suffering horrible and terrible pain. So ask yourself why would a loving and merciful God want to do what the most vile criminal would not do?
Here the Bible is telling us that even death and the grave itself will cease to exist once they are thrown into the lake of fire. Please ask yourself this question. What is the purpose of throwing death and the grave into the lake of fire? Is it not to totally consume and eradicate them from existence?
The grave and death are not going to suffer once they are thrown into the lake of fire. There will be no eternal suffering and pain for death and the grave because that is not the purpose of the lake of fire. Its purpose is that what ever is hurled into that lake of fire is going to be burnt up totally, and completely consumed and destroyed for ever.
The wicked shall perish - That means bye, bye to the body and soul of all those tossed into the lake of fire. Their existence is eternally over and their remains, in the form of smoke, is going to drift through the universe for ever and ever.
The word of God tells us that those things will no longer exist. It doesn't say that sorrow and crying will only exist in the lake of fire. It says that God will wipe away every tear; that tears will no longer exist anywhere, whether it be in paradise or in the lake of fire. The verse also tells us that pain will also cease to exist.
He who has been born once dies twice,
but he who is twice born, dies once.
What strange language, you say? Not really. If one is born but once -- physically -- he dies twice. He dies first in his human body, then again on Judgment Day when his spiritual body, including the soul, is thrown into the lake of fire where it is completely destroyed.
So the second death is that lake of fire that all unsaved are thrown into.
Revelation 20:14 "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of Fire. This is the second death.."
Revelation 21:8 "But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars--their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
On the other hand, he who has been born twice -- physically and spiritually -- dies but once - only the human body dies, for those who have been born a second time will find that the second death (the lake of fire) has no power over them!
In Matthew 7:13-14 The Lord himself tells us some rather interesting things about life and death.
Matthew 7:13 "For the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it". (Again destruction is putting an end to something; to kill it; to cause it's death. Not eternal torment, but destruction.)
Matthew 7:14 "For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.
In verse 13 and 14, he tells us to basically stay on the straight and narrow path because that is the path that will lead to life, while the broad path with the wide gate, which most people will enter, is the gate that leads to destruction. This is another way of saying the broad path leads to death. The Lord has to be referring to the death of the soul because he isn't concerned about the body. All bodies die. The very Word of God tells us that in verses like Hebrews 9:27. "And it is appointed for all men to die once, and after that, the judgment". And the judgment is that particular time when it is determined which souls are thrown into the lake of fire. So what the Lord is trying to save is not our physical bodies, but rather our spiritual bodies - our souls.
The Bible also tells us in verses like 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 and Ezekiel 18:4, exactly what is going to happen to the unsaved souls. It tells us that they will suffer eternal destruction, which therefore will cause them to be eternally separated from the presence and the glory of God. That means that the unsaved soul has only total destruction, and eternal separation from God to look forward to.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 "Inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
The above verse tells us that all those not thrown into the lake of fire can expect to have no vengeance to experience, no penalty to pay, and no eternal destruction to look forward to. They will however be able to be in the very presence of the Lord and be also in the presence of all his glory.
In the most well known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, Jesus explains "that those who believe will not perish", but have everlasting life". We see here that two different fates are contrasted - everlasting life, and perishing. And perishing does not mean eternal torment.
Perishing results in the complete death of the wicked. That the wicked will die, they will be burnt up, be utterly consumed, become nothing but ashes, be completely and eternally devoured by the lake of fire.
In 2Peter 3:7 the apostle Peter spoke of the day of judgment and the "destruction of ungodly men".
Likewise in Philippians 3:18, Paul said of those who had become enemies of Christ: "Their destiny is destruction".
Two verses that many people say indicate that hell is a place of fiery torment are:
1) Mark 9:48. "The worm does not die and the fire is not quenched".
But what is being depicted here in this verse? It is the condition of dead things, of dead animals, of garbage that is being thrown into the garbage pit outside the gates of Jerusalem. This garbage pit is on fire 24 hours a day. No one is writhing in agony. The fire is consuming and obliterating everything, and if by chance something should fall outside the ring of fire, then the worms and the maggots will quickly consume it. The point of this passage is one of utter and complete destruction. The worm doesn't die and the fire is not quenched, until they have done their work and nothing is left of whatever is thrown into that garbage pit.
2) Matthew 8:12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Luke 13:28 "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out."
Some refer to these passages that talk about the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" as being proof that those not saved are punished for all of eternity. Come judgment day, there is indeed going to be a great deal of weeping and much gnashing of teeth, along with tremendous amounts of real anguish and horror when the wicked finally realize the incredible mistake that they have made. They could have had all of eternity with God, but because of pride and sinfulness they now suddenly realize that will be impossible.
There will most certainly be weeping and gnashing of teeth and pleading, and tremendous sorrow, but it is not going to last very long. Just long enough for the body and soul to be completely consumed by the lake of fire. And as the unsaved are being prepared for that lake of fire, they will realize that in just a few moments they and their souls will cease to exist. They will know that they have failed in their very purpose for existence - to be with Almighty God for ever. So their anguish will certainly be indescribably intense. But no place in any of these verses does it insinuate that this "weeping and gnashing of teeth" will go on forever.
Yes the Bible does talk about eternal punishment and eternal doom. But if you are sentenced to eternal death, that is, if you will never come back to life again, then that is an eternal punishment, is it not? And those unbelievers, as they are being cast into the lake of fire, will know that both their physical and spiritual existence's are completely and eternally over. So eternal punishment is not the same thing as eternal punishing. So the pain and suffering of being thrown into the lake of fire will not last very long, but the punishment of a never ending, eternal death, will last forever.
So if you happen to be one of those not saved and are thrown into the lake of fire, then you can expect your complete existence to be blotted out. You entire past and future will be completely erased, and it will be as if your soul and spirit never even existed. But those who are thrown into the lake of fire will not suffer for eternity. In fact God promises us that there will be no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears. And he indicates in the following verse that this is going to apply to everyone.
Revelation 21:4 "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
And what of those who are saved and not thrown into the lake of fire?
Revelation 3:5 "He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not blot out his name from the book of life".
So it appears that the souls of the unsaved will be completely destroyed, for they are the ones whose names have been blotted out of the book of life. Thus the souls of the unsaved will experience the consequences of verses like Psalms 37:20 "But the wicked and the enemies of the Lord shall perish. Into smoke they shall vanish away".
Everlasting torment is contradictory to a just and loving God
Everlasting torment is also intolerable from a moral point of view because it makes God into a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for victims whom he never allows to die. How could a God of Love possibly be a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness to make people suffer for the rest of eternity? It is just not logical or rational, and it is preposterous for a just and loving God to do something like that. Ask yourself this. From all that you know about Jesus Christ, would he do something like that? Of course not. Jesus would never cause one to suffer like that, and keep in mind that he told us that if you seen him then you have seen the Father, because the Father is just like Jesus.
The very thought that there is never ending torment waiting for those who are not saved also goes against the Bible's sense of justice. Compare the doctrine of eternal torment with a standard of justice given by God in the Bible. Exodus 21:24 for example says, "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Thus, the only conclusion one can reach is that only those sinners who have caused eternal torment, deserve equal eternal torment. But since humans, no matter how evil they are, can cause only finite torment, then sentencing them to eternal torment creates a disproportion between their crimes and the infinite penalty of eternal pain and suffering in eternal hellfire. Simply stated, the sentence and punishment would be far too heavy. It would go far beyond "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."
Will the lake of fire burn forever?
If you consider Hebrews 12:29, "For our God is a consuming fire", and the fact that God is eternal, then the lake of fire will continue to burn forever, thus being symbolic of the fact that no lost soul will ever get the chance to ever come back into existence. Once they are lost and consumed and completely obliterated by the lake of fire, then the very existence of those souls are lost for all eternity.
The smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever
Revelation 14:9-11 speaks of the smoke of their torment ascending forever and ever. At first glance this might seem like proof of eternal conscious torment by fire, but it definitely is not. I would think that indeed anyone who is thrown into the inferno called the lake of fire will suffer momentarily and be in incredible torment for the last few seconds of their existence. But this can't last very long. Rather quickly they will be completely and utterly consumed in this inferno, and their final torment, along with their consumed souls, will all turn to smoke and drift through the universe for the rest of eternity.
Also keep in mind that death and the grave (Rev. 20:14) are also going to be thrown into the lake of fire. So ask yourself this question. Why is death and the grave thrown into the lake of fire?
And the purpose for throwing these two things into the lake of fire is to completely and totally destroy them. To obliterate them from existence so that absolutely no trace of them remains. Death and the grave are not going to suffer for all of eternity, but instead are going to be consumed and pass into complete extinction and total oblivion. Death and the grave and anything else that is thrown into that lake of fire will also be totally and completely destroyed rather quickly, because Revelation 20:14 tells us that this lake of fire is the second death. Thus the only thing left of any of it, will be the drifting smoke that will drift through the universe for all of eternity.
Psalms 37:20 "But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall be consumed; into smoke shall they consume away."
Revelation 19:3 And the smoke of her goes on ascending forever and ever.
And finally, consider Revelation 21:7 Verse 7 tells us the following. "But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the murderers, the sexually immoral, all sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone"
And then verse 7 ends with the following statement. "This is the second death".
This second death is the final and eternal death of all those souls which are thrown into that lake of fire. Simply put, if you followed satan in this life, then you can expect to follow him right into that lake of fire. Thus everything thrown into that fire whether it is souls, death, the grave, believe it or not even satan, will all be completely and totally consumed and obliterated from existence.
The demise of satan.
Very quickly you and your entire family are restrained and all of you are tied up. You are being held down on the couch, unable to move a muscle. The rest of your family members are also all tied up and laying about on the floor in front of you. You can see each of their eyes, and you see horrendous fear and terror. You also see in their eyes their pleas for you to do something. You want to help but you are powerless to do anything. And then your worse fears begin. The torment of your loved ones begins.
You watch as your spouses' head and face are brutally kicked, over and over and over. You watch as lighter fluid is poured over your spouses beautiful stomach and then ignited and you are suddenly engulfed in the horrible odor of burning flesh. You watch almost hypnotized as your daughters are brutally raped and all kinds of sadistic acts are inflicted upon their young bodies. You gaze over at one of you sons and see that they are in the process of gouging out his eyes.
All of them are screaming in unbelievable pain, the sound which is so loud that it is truly deafening. You continue to struggle against the one with you on the couch, the one restraining you but it is no use - he is just too strong. You are helpless. You move your head around so that you can look into his face so you can plead with him to let you go to your family, just so you can comfort them, to give them aid. But as your turn your head to look at him, you are shocked to see that the one who is restraining you is your dearest and closest friend. You can't believe it. He smiles down at you and says, hi buddy, how are you doing?
Still smiling brightly he then has the audacity to ask you if you want to go out to dinner tonight. He tells you that he knows of a place where the food will literally melt in your mouth. He then has the gall to ask if you want to go to the ball game tomorrow or if not a ball game, then how about a round of golf.
The above story is a typical description of the co-existence of heaven and hell. It is both heaven and hell existing together at the exact same time. And to make matters even worse, in the above story, the best friend restraining you, is Jesus Christ. Remember, it is Jesus that is going to be doing all the judging and deciding what happens to everyone, and where everyone goes. The couch represents heaven, the thugs who burst into your house represent those that rule over hell, and your family represents all those loved ones that you love and care about, but who didn't quit make it into heaven.
Those of us who die and are "saved" go to off to heaven where we exist in heavenly bliss, protected around the clock by God. However, those of us who die and are not saved, are supposed to go to a place called hell - a place of unspeakable and never ending torment. A place that has nothing but an eternity of excruciating pain waiting those that end up there. But the problem is that those of us in heaven, cannot lift a finger to help all those loved ones going through an eternity of pain and suffering. We can't help because our best friend, Jesus Christ, won't let us.
So would a loving God allow something like that to happen? On the human level we find the above story absolutely appalling, in fact, it probably makes you angry to think that your best friend would prevent you from aiding and comforting your loved ones, to say nothing of having the callousness of inviting you out to a great meal and to partake in other pleasures, the whole time your loved ones are suffering so horribly. It just doesn't make any sense. It certainly doesn't fit human logic let alone divine logic. If something is so repulsive on the human level then why would it be acceptable to a loving God on the divine level? It would take a very twisted God to allow something like this to exist. Common sense tells you that a hell of eternal torment is completely against the very nature of a loving and merciful and just God.
From what you know about God, is this the way he would act? Does this fit the picture that the Bible gives of Jesus Christ, a man who washed the feet of his friends only hours before his own horrible death? Would these be the actions of someone that asked his father to forgive those who were in the actual process of brutalizing and killing him? Of course not. It just doesn't make sense and it doesn't fit the image of God the Father or his Son Jesus Christ.