This study will evoke many questions that are potentially inflammatory. The destination of the wicked and those who mean well is often described in the Scriptures as a fiery state or place, the issues which relate to their fate and final state constitute a burning subject. Frankly, the view presented is to some, controversial, but as always, we will hue to the line of authority that we have always followed and let the “scriptures speak for themselves”. End time topics and inquiries into the state of the dead, both of the redeemed and the damned evoke extensive dispute for those who have not studied for themselves and follow what someone else has taught, a nightmare or dream, or what they have conjured in their minds and have not analyzed.
Many of the atheist, agnostics, and liberals resist this discussion because they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings, be considered “judgmental”, or be probing into something where there is no clear understanding presented, anywhere. This will not be a “trial balloon”; I have often spoken on the subject, but have been asked to commit to writing what my years of study and searching have taught me. I think myself fortunate to be able to discuss this with students, not mere casual readers of the Word of God who are known to be conversant and concerned as to all questions and conclusions which circulate among some of our brethren about what represents to us the “other side” of life to which we all must travel.
The fate and final state of the unredeemed is not a moot subject in the Scriptures. Jesus saw fit to speak of it on more than one occasion. His words are incisive and authoritarian. By all means, they should provide the basis of any studied pronouncements upon the subject.
In the Sermon on the Mount, the most embracive of His discourses, Jesus compared the fate of the wicked to the state of the refuse cast into Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom). Matthew 5:22, 29, 30 He repeats and somewhat extends the analogy in another side-discourse reported in Matthew 18:8, 9 and Mark 9:42. A corpse or carcass or load of soggy garbage might not fall amid sufficient combustibles to be consumed by the incessant flames. But the maggots took over where the fire left off. Such was the fate and state of the refuse cast into “the gehenna of fire”.
When Christ discussed His sheep-goat parable of the judgment, Jesus said: “Then shall he (the King) say unto them on His left hand (the goats). Depart from Me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41 The “eternal fire” spoken of here is the same as “the gehenna of fire” spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 18:8,9, Jesus used the terms interchangeably: “If thy hand or thy foot causeth thee to stumble, cut it off and cast it from thee: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed or halt, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into ‘the eternal fire’. And if thine eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather having two eyes to be cast into the hell (gehenna) of fire.”
In Revelation 20:9-10 most think a vivid description is given of the “end” of Satan and his host: “They went up over the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where also the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (age upon age)”, but this has to do with the reign of Christ!