Will God Punish the Sinner Forever?
The Lord is not an unjust God who will punish the sinner forever because of a life time of sin that lasted about 70 years. God is not a torturer. The teaching of eternal torment has done more to drive people to atheism than any other evil doctrine. It is an attack upon the loving character of a our heavenly Father, who offered His Son to die to atone for the sins of men (John 3:16).
The act of destroying sinners is foreign to God’s nature. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 33:11). Destroying the wicked is a strange act to God’s nature “For the Lord shall rise up … that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act” (Isaiah 28:21).
1-Hell will not be forever because the Bible tells us that it will go out. “Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it” (Isaiah 47:14). “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:1, 4). The Bible teaches that in God’s new kingdom all “former things” will be passed away. Hell, being one of the former things, is included.
2-What about the phrase, “eternal torment”? This phrase” does not appear in the Bible.
3-What about the phrase “unquenchable fire” in Jeremiah 17:27? Unquenchable fire is fire that cannot be put out, but which goes out when it has turned everything to ashes. Jeremiah 17:27 says, Jerusalem was to be destroyed with unquenchable fire, and in 2 Chronicles 36:19-21, the Bible says this fire burned the city “to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah” and left it desolate. Yet, we know this fire went out, because Jerusalem is not burning today.
4-What about the phrase “eternal fire” in Jude 7? Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with everlasting, or eternal, fire (Jude 7), and that fire turned them “into ashes” as a warning to “those that after should live ungodly” (2 Peter 2:6). We know that these cities are not burning today. The fire went out after everything was burned up. Likewise, everlasting fire will go out after it has turned the wicked to ashes (Malachi 4:3). The effects of the fire are everlasting, but not the burning itself.
5-What about the phrase “everlasting punishment” in Matthew 25:46? Notice the word is punishment, not punishing. Punishing would be continuous, while punishment is a one act. The punishment of the wicked is death, and this death is everlasting.
6-What about the phrase “for ever and ever” in Revelation 14:11? “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
The term “for ever,” as used in the Bible, means simply a period of time, limited or unlimited. It is used 56 times in the Bible in connection with things that have already ended. In Jonah 2:6, “forever” means “three days and nights.” In Deuteronomy 23:3, this means “10 generations.” In the case of man, this means “as long as he lives” or “until death” (1 Samuel 1:22, 28; Exodus 21:6; Psalms 48:14). Therefore, the wicked will burn in the fire as long as they live, or until death.
7-The wages or punishment for sin is death, not everlasting life in hell fire. “God … gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The wicked “perish,” or receive “death.” The righteous receive “everlasting life.”
8-No one is in hell right now. Sinners will go to hell at the end of time at the Judgement. “So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:40-42).
9-Hell is not eternal. If the wicked lived forever being tortured in hell, they would be immortal. But this is impossible, because the Bible says God “only hath immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16). When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel was posted to guard the tree of life so that sinners would not eat of the tree and “live for ever” (Genesis 3:22-24). The teaching that sinners are immortal in hell originated with Satan and is completely untrue (Genesis 3:4). God prevented the immortality of sin when it entered this earth by guarding the tree of life. An eternal hell of torment would perpetuate sin.
10-The wicked will be obliterated. The Bible says the wicked will suffer “death” (Romans 6:23), “destruction” (Job 21:30), “shall perish” (Psalms 37:20), will “burn” up (Malachi 4:1), “shall be destroyed together” (Psalms 37:38), will “consume away” (Psalms 37:20), “shall be cut off” (Psalms 37:9), and “shall be slain” (Psalms 62:3). God will “destroy” them (Psalms 145:20), and “fire shall devour them” (Psalms 21:9). All of these references make it clear that the wicked die and are destroyed. They do not live forever in misery.
11-All the wicked will be punished each according to his deeds with different punishments. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12). “That servant, which knew his lord’s will, and … neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes” (Luke 12:47, 48). This means some will receive greater punishment than others, based upon their works.
12-God will finally end hell. “He will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time” (Nahum 1:9). “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Isaiah 65:17).
In His service,