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  • Writer's pictureSusan

God Fire or Hell Fire?

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

If Hell doesn't exist, then how does God punish the wicked and what do we do with all of those texts that talk about casting them into a lake of fire? How do we reconcile a God who loves us with a God who would destroy us?

I listened to a YouTube video of a pastor describing God and the saints at the judgement. They were standing on the edge of the chasm, laughing at agony of the wicked burning up after they had been cast into the lake of fire. I thought, what kind of psychopathic god do you worship!!! That is NOT God.

An equally terrifying picture of God and His punishment are found in Hell Houses run by various evangelical churches. How does fear draw people into a love relationship with God? Is this how God operates?

What does a loving God look like? You have the love chapter, the sermon on the mount and the commandments to tell you what love is. Does it sound right for God to say, 'I love you, but if you sin, I have to kill you!' Can you love God like that, or do you fear Him? Where is your freedom? Do you trust Him? You see, you can't have love, without freedom. Freedom doesn't exist without trust and trust draws us in to love. Satan sought to kill all three of those characteristics that define love at the tree in the Garden of Eden. When we perpetuate fear of God, we are actually doing the work of Satan in warping God's character of love.

So What Happens to Sin and Sinners?

Wickedness will be destroyed in the end, but it will be the result of choosing to hold onto selfishness. God will remove His protection and sin cannot exist in His presence. God is an everlasting and eternal fire that will cleanse the whole earth. In Revelation 20, John had a vision of people who were not found written in the book of life to being cast into the lake of fire. We must remember that this is a vision. John was interpreting scenes and trying to capture the essence of what he was seeing. Since it is inconsistent with God's character to torture or use force, we need to use reason to re think that scene in the light of what we know about God. Sin and wickedness will be consumed, but it is by the fire of His presence that they will not be able to stand.

“But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderers’ soap." Malachi 3:2 NKJV
"for Jehovah thy God is a fire consuming -- a zealous God." Deuteronomy 4:24 YLT
"Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire." Deuteronomy 9:3
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29

Think about that! God is an all consuming fire that burns up sin! We need to trust Him and be cleansed by His forgiveness to stand before Him, in His presence. Of course Satan would work to pervert our understanding of God. How many Christians are going to be able to trust that God when He returns? They too will flee from Him and beg for the rocks to fall down to hide them from an angry, wrathful God.

They called out to the mountains and to the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the eyes of the one who sits on the throne and from the anger of the Lamb! Revelation 6:16 GNTA

In Philippians 2:12, the Bible says, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." It seems like a strange text until you understand that Satan is our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and works constantly to undermine our faith, love and trust of God. You know that little voice in your head that is telling you, 'you're not good enough'. That is not your own, original thought! Don't take ownership of it! Satan plants these small thoughts in our heads that when allowed to take root and flourish, lead to our destruction. In the end, Satan will throw every accusation at us. We need to trust God and run to Him, not from Him.

How Does God's Law Work?

How do we reconcile the idea of a loving God with wrath and punishment? There are two ways of looking at God's law:

Legal Law Lense: Some people believe that God has standards or a law that we need to follow in order to live in harmony. If we don't follow it, God punishes us. Since His law is arbitrary, it can be changed, policed and pardoned by the church. Some don't believe the church can pardon or forgive, but they still feel that it is a law that can be changed by the church.

God will judge our sins and punish us by throwing us into a lake of fire if we have not accepted that Jesus paid the price for our sins and appeased God's wrath. Now when God looks at us, he sees the perfect life of Jesus and grants us His grace.

Design Law Lense: Others believe that God designed us with the law to be written on our hearts. Deviation from this law sears our conscience and warps our characters leading us to separate ourselves from God who is the giver of life. His law does not change and does not need to be policed and punished, since it leads to the natural consequence of death.

If you believe the second option, you believe that God diagnosis our sin problem and is working to bring about healing in our lives. He sent His Son Jesus to show us who God is. When Adam and Eve sinned, Mankind changed, they began to fear God and the circle of love and trust was broken. God wants to bring us back into a love relationship with Him healing and transforming our lives into a reflection of His character. God is an everlasting fire, if we do not love and trust Him, we will not be able to stand in His presence. Sin and death will finally be destroyed by fire, but it won't be hell fire. It will be the presence of the Lord that only the righteous will be able to dwell in for all eternity.

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