Copr. 1999, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references
INVENTED BY THE DEVIL
(MATTHEW 3:12; REVELATION 20:9-10, 13-15; ISAIAH 66:22-24)
Introduction: One strong reason the Christian has for
"taking up his cross" on earth is the hope of eternity in
heaven. It seems so foolish to trade 70 years here for
eternity. But, is the trade worse than that? If we are
lost, do we simply lose eternity? Or are we trading 70
years of sin for an eternity of agony in fire? Would the
justice side of God punish man by eternal burning for 70
years of sin? Let's see what the Bible says.
I. FIERY END?
A. How are the wicked destroyed? How is sin destroyed?
What do you think the Bible teaches about this?
1. Let's review several texts to see if what you
think is supported by the Bible:
a. Read Matthew 3:12. What is the fate of the
(1) What kind of fire does it say will
burn the wicked?
b. Read Matthew 25:41. What kind of end do we
see here? What kind of fire do we have?
(1) Does this text suggest that the fire
that burns the lost is the same fire
that burns the Satan and his angels?
c. Read Mark 9:43. What kind of place is
hell? What kind of fire do we have here?
B. The Bible clearly teaches that the fate of the
wicked is fire. Each time we have seen the word
"fire" we have found an adjective that indicates it
is forever. So the next important question is "how
long?" Specifically, "Is it [the fire] forever?"
Before we get to that, let's look for a moment at
the importance of this question.
II. HOW IMPORTANT?
A. How important to your Christian experience is the
question "how long do the wicked burn?
1. If you thought the wicked would burn forever,
would you be more serious about your
relationship with God?
2. On the other hand, if you thought God would
punish a lifetime of sin with eternal torment,
would you reject Him?
a. Would you serve Him because you were
(1) Can you be scared into obedience?
3. If eternal torment in fire is the fate of the
wicked, and you fail to warn people about it,
how serious a sin is that?
a. Remember in Luke 16 (the story of Abraham
and Lazarus that we studied last week) it
has the wicked talking to the righteous,
but they cannot cross over because of a
(1) If you are wrong, but go to heaven,
are you going to hear about this
throughout eternity? (I suspect there
would be a lot of yelling about it.
"You didn't warn me!")
4. We are approaching 3,000 people who get this
lesson each week through the internet. As you
might imagine, I get a steady stream of
feedback on the lessons. Almost all the
feedback is positive, but these series of
lessons on the afterlife have recently caused
a very concerned gentleman to write that I am
misleading the readers and that I should stop
teaching on this subject.
a. If I am wrong that the end of the wicked
is death, not eternal life, is he right?
(You bet he is! Friend, this issue is of
critical importance. You need to be
certain you understand the Bible's
teaching on this issue.)
III. ETERNAL TORMENT OR ETERNAL RESULTS?
A. Let's look at some more texts about the fiery end.
Read Revelation 20:9-10, 13-15. How long does this
suggest that Satan is tormented? (Day and night
a. Do you remember that we earlier read
Matthew 25:41 that said that the wicked
are burned in the same fire as Satan?
Does this then suggest that the torment
for the all the wicked is forever?
b. Verse 9 of Revelation 20 says that the
fire "devoured them." How do you
reconcile the idea of being devoured with
c. How can the lake of fire be called "the
second death" (v.14) if you actually live
d. What do you think verse 14 means when it
tells us that "death and Hades" were
thrown into the fire?
(1) Are they burning forever too? (Verse
14, more than anything else, seems to
show that the fire means "the end."
Otherwise, how would it make any
sense to throw death and Hades in the
fire? The phrase "ever and ever" in
v. 10 uses a Greek word (aion)that,
according to Thayer, can mean "a
period of time, an age.")
e. Read Matthew 6:30. Do you normally see
people burning grass? What do you think
Jesus means when He refers to the grass
being "thrown into the fire?" (He is
obviously using this expression to mean
that it dies. It is the end. It is not
f. Read Isaiah 66:22-24. How can we have
"dead" bodies and live worms? (This is a
picture of a defeated army. What do you
think they did with the dead? If they
left them there, worms would eat them. If
they wanted to get rid of them, they would
burn them. This is an indication of a
great number of the wicked so that the
worm and the fire have a very long life.)
g. Read Jude 1:7. What kind of fire destroyed
(1) If the fire of Sodom is an example,
what do we learn from this example
about the everlasting nature of the
(2) Is Sodom currently burning?
h. Read Jeremiah 17:27. Was Jerusalem
destroyed? Is it still burning?
i. Read Revelation 18:2, 7-9. What is the end
for "Babylon?" (Fire consumes her.)
(1) Does the fire torture her? (It seems
that it does. See v.7)
(a) If so, how long does the torture
go on? (Verse 7 seems to say it
is measured by the extent of her
B. These texts we have looked at seem to suggest that
"eternal" and "everlasting" fire is not really
eternal or everlasting at all.
C. Does the idea that eternal does not really mean
forever when it comes to the fiery end of the
wicked create other problems for us? Let's look at
1. If you say that the punishment of the wicked
is not eternal, then why would you expect that
you would live forever with God? (The greek
word is the same for both "eternals" in this
2. Do you have a double-standard? How would you
explain that your reward is eternal, but the
punishment of the wicked is not? (The
teachers' helps suggest that a proper
interpretation of the Greek is "not subject to
change." The death of the wicked is not
subject to change and the life of the
righteous in also not subject to change.)
IV. OUR LOVING GOD
A. What does it say about our Lord if he would set
someone on fire forever?
1. Is that consistent with your knowledge of God?
2. Read Ezekiel 33:11. What does this suggest is
God's attitude towards the death of the
3. Why, then, does God burn people at all? (Read
2 Peter 3:10-13. The old will be burned, and
the new will be created.)
B. Praise God that He has made provision for you to
escape destruction. Will you accept His offer?
V. NEXT WEEK: HUMAN VULNERABILITY.