Life After Death

Chapter 11: The Final Destiny of the Wicked (Part 3)

In this series on Life after Death we have been studying what the Bible teaches about the final destiny of the wicked - the Lake of Fire.   The prophet who warned us most about Hell is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, so if we believe in Him we must also believe in Hell and what He says about it. We saw that when Jesus referred to the final destiny of the wicked, the Lake of Fire (rather than Hades) He called it GEHENNA, after the Valley of Hinnom, a deep and narrow valley south of Jerusalem where children were sacrificed in fires to Molech, which became a rubbish-tip, a place of worms an continual burning, an apt image of Hell. 
 
 Matthew 10:8: “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 (Gehenna).” 
 
 The Gospels begin with the preaching of John the Baptist.
 Matthew 3:10: “Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the FIRE. v11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and FIRE. 
 
THE BAPTISM of FIRE! v12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat (believers) into the barn (heaven) ; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable FIRE.”

 
*John warns of a punishment of everlasting fire. Again and again the Bible reveals there will be an everlasting (endless) punishment by means of an Everlasting Fire (it does not make sense for God to continue to maintain an everlasting fire, if everyone in it are annihilated after a time - then it would be a fire with no purpose. 
If annihilation was true the fire would be put out once it had accomplished its purpose, but the fire is everlasting because the conscious punishment of the wicked is everlasting). We will see that the doctrine of everlasting punishment is stated again and again in the verses that we will study. Knowing that it is a hard teaching for man to accept and will therefore tend to reject it, God has made it as plain as possible in His various statements on it. 

In fact it is hard to imagine how He could have found language to make it any clearer. Whether we like the idea or not, God (the only one who knows) tells us this and we have no right to believe otherwise. If people or cults reject this doctrine it is not because it is not clearly revealed in the Bible (it is, in fact it is hard to see how God could have made it clearer) but because it offends their sensibilities, but we must trust that God knows what is right.

 
 It would seem that there is no choice. God has made man in His image to be immortal. When man sins, He sins against against the infinite holy God and His sin is infinite deserving an infinite punishment. Now Christ took the punishment on Himself so we could be forgiven and delivered from it, and paid for us to have the Holy-Spirit so we could be cleansed and transformed from within to be like Christ. But if man rejects God’s offer of salvation He stays in his sins and has to pay the infinite punishment justice demands. He is in infinite SIN-DEBT and however long he stays in hell he can never pay it off. 
 
 Who goes in the Lake of Fire? 
Make sure you are not one of these!
  
 *1.God and Gospel-rejectors 
2Thessalonians 1:7-9: “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming FIRE taking Vengeance (righteous retribution/punishment - not designed to reform the criminal or protect society as in our criminal system, but to satisfy justice) on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the Presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 
 
 *2. Those who are given over to immorality,not just homosexuality
Jude 7: “As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the Vengeance of eternal fire.” 
 
 *3. Those who bear no fruit (not received God’s spirit within).
Matthew 3:10: “Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. v11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and FIRE. v12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable FIRE.”
 
 *4. Hypocrites (play-actors) in the Church, pretending to be believers. Isaiah 33:14: “The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: 
“Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? 
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” 
 
*5. Armageddon Armies
Isaiah 66:24: “And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. 
For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched.”
 Jesus picks up on this phrase - internal and external punishment.
 
 When we sin, God gives us an accusing conscience that tells us we are guilty and deserving judgement. His Word also confirms this fact, so we will have no excuse that we have not been warned. We may suppress and even sear our conscience, but after death it will be revived and made fully awake and sensitive, with a heightened awareness - much more than it is in this life (this is ‘their worm’ that never dies - eating away inside their soul - the inner part of their eternal punishment). In Hell, men will be fully aware of every sin they have committed and its magnitude against God and others. Punishment requires that they will be conscious, fully aware of their guilt and that they are fully deserving of their punishment. This is the internal mental aspect of their torment along with regret, rage, frustration, remorse described as: “weeping and knashing of teeth.” This is God giving them up to the result of their sin in their inner man. The ‘fire’ denotes God’s external restraint and punishment of sin that torments their soul and body.
 
*6. Judas: Acts 1:25: “this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.”
 
 *7. Those who take the Mark of the Beast in the Tribulation.
 Revelation 14:9: “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 
 
 v11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
 
 Notice their torment (conscious punishment) with fire is endless, they have no rest for it. This is an absolutely clear proof that their punishment is conscious and unending forever and ever. 
They never cease to exist. 
 
 *All the unsaved Sinners. Revelation 21:6-8: “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the Lake which burns with Fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 
 
The order of occupation of the Lake of Fire.
At present the Lake exists, but is empty.
 
 *1. Antichrist and the false prophet
Revelation 19:19,20: “I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
 
 This was prophesied in Daniel 7:9-11. He sees the rise of antichrist in v8. then at Mid-Tribulation he proudly claims to be god. This sets in motion God’s final judgement upon him: “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him (his final judgement - the Lake of Fire). 
A thousand thousands ministered to Him; 10,000 times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened (of his life). I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain (the physical death of antichrist), and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame (the eternal death of antichrist as he is thrown into the Lake of Fire).”  
 
 *2. Satan and fallen angels: In Matthew 25:41, the wicked are dismissed into the: “everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” When the 1000 years were finished satan will lead a final rebellion. Then: “The devil who deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Satan clearly will have an endless conscious punishment and men who follow him will face the same reality. (In Jude 6; 2Peter 2:4 angels are kept in prison awaiting their final judgement in the lake of fire). 
 
*3. All the unsaved (John 3:36). 
Revelation 20:11-15: “Then I saw a Great White Throne and Him who 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 (spiritually) DEAD, small and great, standing(resurrected) before God and books (the record of their lives) were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the DEAD were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books... they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the 2nd death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire.” 
 
 So after satan is thrown into the Fire, there is the final judgement of the wicked (God-rejecters) in the Lake of Fire. As they rejected the Work of Christ for them, they have to be judged on the basis of their own works against the standard of God’s perfect law and they will all fail in this judgement and as a result they will all be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This will be a public judgement confirming the private judgement already made by God at the time of their death, where it will be openly revealed that they are not in the Book of Life, having rejected Christ, and that their lives which are an open book to God deserve punishment. 
 
 *This is primarily a Judgement of their works to determine degree of punishment. In other words it is a FINAL SENTENCING based on their degree of rebellion to God, according to how much light they had rejected. As in our legal system there are 2 stages, the judgement of guilt or innocence (at death), followed by the final sentencing (if found guilty) 
where the judge decides the degree of punishment.
 
 (In between these 2 judgements, he is kept in a holding cell-hades, which itself is a place of punishment, but a lesser punishment than the final one inflicted at the time of sentencing).

*There are Degrees of punishment - there are greater and lesser sins (John 19:11), and different levels of pain in Hell, just as there are degrees of reward for the righteous.. 
All will be miserable but some more than others. 

Matthew 11:20-24: “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

 
 *The greatest sin and punishment is those who know but reject Christ - they rejected more light (see also Luke 12:47-48). 
 
 Matthew 10:14,15: “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”
 
 Those who reject Christ having known (of) Him will suffer greater punishment. Hebrews 10:26-31: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said,“Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (for our God is consuming fire) (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29).
 
 *Is Hell a party where you can freely indulge in your sin with others? No! More like solitary confinement - no fellowship.They will not even be be free to sin for no sin will be permitted or committed in eternity. God will no longer permit sin. He will restrain all sin in Hell. He will get the victory over all sin and rebellion, for: 1Corinthians 15:25 “For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” and  “at the Name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11). Even satan will have to bow his knee in subjection to the rule of Christ. Therefore everyone will descend to the level of pain necessary to restrain their rebellious sin-nature. Every sinner will be forced to bow his knee forever. There are no parties, only pain in Hell! Everyone, even satan will be forced into submission to God by external pressure (fire). Hell will not be a party. You either choose to submit to God now, or by pain be forced into submission. He will have no rebellion in His universe. 
 
 God can restrain and overcome sin internally or externally. God could force us (from the outside) to obey Him by giving us pain when we sin, but He does not want to control us that way. He wants us to receive His love and grace on the inside, so that we voluntarily live for Him. But in the Lake of Fire, everyone will be at the pain level necessary to stop them sinning. There will be different degrees of torment in Hell, the more sinful the person is, the greater the pain necessary to restrain him. 
 
 This is what Jesus refers to as SALT - that which restrains corruption. You can either have salt within yourself, being constrained by the grace of God, or be salted externally by fire. Either way you will not sin in eternity. 
 
 Mark 9:43-50: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, ‘where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. 
It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire, where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ 

For everyone will be seasoned with fire, 
and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavour, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”
 
 In Mark 9, Jesus has been warning about Hell: “where their worm (torment) dies not, and FIRE is not quenched” (v48).His message to us: 'Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness wherewith shall you season it? Have salt in yourselves and have peace with one another' (v50). Salt is that which restains sin - the Word of God, the power of God, the grace of God. Have salt in yourselves - receive God’s Life within you that stops the corruption of sin. Then we will also love one another, and be a witness, a salty savour to others.  
 
 His warning to unbelievers is: “Everyone shall be SALTED with FIRE” (v49). You can either have salt within yourself or you will be salted from the outside (like Lot’s wife). Salt is what stops sin. If you don’t receive salt on the inside, you’ll be salted from the outside and that’s judgement. If you don’t receive the salt (the grace and Word) of God inside you now, you will still be salted from without, but with FIRE (to restran your sin and corruption).
  
 *Sodom is a demonstration of how God will judge the world by FIRE and SALT, to put an end to sin. The fire and salt stopped sin in that region.  
 
 Will it be eternal life or eternal death for you? (Romans 6:23). You need to be in Heaven not in Hell! So everyone will be salted with fire. Salt stops corruption. The wicked will be salted like Lot’s wife, and suffer fire and brimstone like Sodom (Rev 19:20, 20:10, 21:8). Receive the grace of God into your heart so that you love God freely rather than being forced to bow the knee. 
 
Are you like Lot, a carnal believer, compromising for a peaceful life, losing respect and witness, who just escapes, saved because someone is praying for you but ending up with no reward? Or are you like Lot’s wife, looking like a believer but when it comes down to it, the Lord isn’t in your life? Or are you an unbeliever, like the people of Sodom, who forgot God, going deeper into sin, until judgment was inevitable. Be like Abraham who put the Lord first and received a great inheritance. He walked the earth trusting God. God looked after him. He had a good life, but his eyes were on Heaven and the city whose maker is God (Hebrews 11:8-12). 

 The concept of Hell is hard but in the end all will see that God is absolutely fair and just (Hebrews 11:6, Genesis 18:25). 
 
 Remember: John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” and 'Anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.' 
 
 How urgent it is that you trust in Christ as your Lord and Saviour! Our sin can and will take us to hell. There is only 1 remedy - the Blood of Christ - run to Him and recive His mercy (forgiveness) and grace (Spirit with-power to be changed). You must come to Him for salvation, forgiveness and power over sin.
 
*SINNER’s PRAYER.

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