Introduction: Do people seriously think about hell? How many
books and movies have characters who say, “See you in hell?”
If the speaker truly believed hell was an eternally burning
fire, that statement would not be made casually. If it is
eternal torture serious people would make it a very high
priority to avoid hell. Instead, most people (including me)
think in terms of missing out on heaven. And what does hell
say about God? The gospel story is that God is more than
fair to humans when He gave up Himself to allow us to choose
eternal life. Can “more than fair,” also be more than
unjust? Seventy-years of sin deserves eternal torture?
Let’s dive into our Bibles and see what it has to say about
I. Worm Warfare
A. Read Isaiah 66:23. Have you cited this text to
others to prove that even in heaven the Sabbath
will be observed?
B. Read Isaiah 66:24. If you answered, yes, to the
previous question, did you continue to cite this
verse? (Probably not!)
1. Does this verse prove that the lost are
tortured in a “fire” that “shall not be
2. Let’s take a deeper dive into this text. What
does it say is the future for those who rebel
against God? (They will die. They are dead.)
a. Is death the point of dispute between
Satan and God in the temptation of Eve?
(Read Genesis 3:3-4. Satan asked Eve to
rebel against God and promised her that
rebellion did not end in death. It was a
lie then and it is a lie now.)
C. Re-read the last sentence of Isaiah 66:24. Whose
worm and fire do not die? (The fire does not
belong to the person, it ostensibly comes from
God. Thus, there is no reason to think the worm
belongs to anyone other than God. This simply
describes the destruction of the body – it is
either burned up or it is eaten by worms.)
D. Read Mark 9:47-48. What does Jesus add to Isaiah
66:24? (He does not add anything. He merely quotes
it in part.)
E. Context is always important. Read Mark 9:42. Is
causing a child to sin a serious matter? (Yes.)
1. When Jesus says “it would be better for him”
what is the alternative? (Whatever normally
happens to sinners.)
2. Did Jesus believe in eternal torture in hell?
(He could not have believed in it because
everyone would prefer to be drowned to being
F. Read Mark 9:43-47. Let me ask a practical
question. Is it sin to decide to disobey God, or
is that okay if you never act on it?
G. Read Matthew 5:27-29. Here we find another account
of Jesus’ statement. Is Jesus saying that only the
act is sin? (No. He says that if you intend to
commit adultery it is the same as doing it.)
1. In that context, what would be the purpose of
tearing out your eye or cutting off your hand?
(Jesus is engaged in hyperbole. He cannot
seriously mean that you should blind or
cripple yourself because that would not end
your ability to sin.)
2. Is it reasonable to conclude that Jesus is
also engaged in hyperbole when He speaks of
the “unquenchable fire” of hell? (It is. But
again, note that it is the fire that is
unquenchable, not the burning of your body.)
II. Lake of Fire
A. Read Revelation 20:4-6. What does this say is the
fate of the wicked dead up to this point? (They
are dead in their graves. They “came to life” in
the second resurrection after the thousand years.)
1. Have they been consciously burning in hell?
(Not according to this.)
B. Read Revelation 20:7-9. Satan rallies the wicked
to attack the New Jerusalem and the saints. What
is their end? (Fire “consumed” them. This is the
first reference to their encounter with fire, and
that fire does not torture them, it consumes
1. What is the source of the fire that consumes
the wicked? (Fire “came down from heaven.”
This is not hell fire from deep in the earth.
This is not torture. This is the destruction
of the wicked.)
C. Read Revelation 20:10. Assume that upon death the
wicked go straight to hell where they are tortured
by fire. Will they be tortured longer than the
devil? (Yes, because the devil enters fire at the
end of the earth. We can see how this makes no
logical or jurisprudential sense. Satan suffers
less than the lost who died thousands of years
ago? That cannot be correct.)
1. Who does the Bible say will be tormented
a. Does this seem fair? (Satan is the author
of evil and he has been creating misery
for thousands of years.)
D. Read Revelation 20:14-15 and 1 Corinthians 15:25-
26. How can hell be thrown into the lake of fire?
How can death be thrown into the lake of fire?
(The wicked have previously been consumed by fire
from heaven. What is left is the system of death.
I understand this to say that it all ends here.
All evil is forever gone.)
1. Is Satan gone too? (This is a much closer
question, but I think that even he ultimately
is consumed so that death and hell can truly
be said to have come to an end.)
III. God’s Attitude
A. Read Ezekiel 18:32. What is God’s attitude towards
the wicked? (He wants them to turn to Him and
1. What does God say is the alternative to
turning to Him? (Death.)
2. Would a God who does not desire anyone to die
determine to torture them in fire forever?
(Eternal torture is completely inconsistent
with God’s description of His attitude.
B. Read Ezekiel 18:23. What is the answer to this
rhetorical question? (God wants us to answer that
He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Obviously then, He has no pleasure in the torture
of the wicked.)
C. Read Hebrews 9:25-28. Does this tell us that Jesus
took our place? That He suffered for our sins?
1. I’ve never heard this argument before, but
consider it. Hebrews 9:26 argues that Jesus
did not have to “repeatedly” die because He is
not an actual lamb and He sacrificed Himself.
But, if the true penalty for sin is eternally
burning in hell, isn’t that the “repeated”
that Jesus should have suffered? (If the
proper penalty for sin is eternal torture,
then Jesus did not suffer it in our place.
This is a powerful argument that death, and
not eternal torture, is the penalty for sin.)
D. Read Ecclesiastes 9:1-2. These are the words of
Solomon. Is he inspired by the Holy Spirit to make
this statement about the future? (If Solomon is
saying that our eternal future is the same,
whether we are good or bad, that is obviously
inconsistent with the rest of the Bible –
particularly the points we have been studying in
this series of lessons.)
E. Read Ecclesiastes 9:3. Is this consistent with the
rest of the Bible? (If he means that we all die,
then that is true.)
F. Read Ecclesiastes 9:4-5. Is this true? (While it
may be true that being alive is better than being
dead, it is manifestly false that the righteous
dead have “no more reward.”)
1. Do you quote Ecclesiastes 9:5 to describe the
state of the dead? (If you do, stop it because
it contains an obviously false statement.)
G. Read Ecclesiastes 9:7-9. Does God approve of
everything that we do? Is life all we have and
therefore we should live it to the full?
H. Read Ecclesiastes 9:10-11. What would be the
purpose of working “with all your might” if, as
verse 11 states, it makes no difference because
time and chance can cause things to go wrong?
1. Is life even more frustrating because after
all our good work we all go to hell?
I. How should we understand the statements that
Solomon makes that are inconsistent with the
gospel? (We can believe that the Bible is the
inerrant word of God by understanding that
different texts apply in different ways. Jesus
told the Luke 16 story about Lazarus and the Rich
Man to illustrate that humans would reject the
evidence of His resurrection. Even wise and rich
Solomon suffered from depression and wrote things
that he did not believe. We should not err by
quoting his depressed statements.)
J. Friend, God loves you and does not have eternal
torture in mind for you if you reject His gracious
offer of eternal life. But, why be stupid? Choose
Jesus and choose eternal life. Why not do that
IV. Next week: End-Time Deceptions.
Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
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but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.