This follows the study I have been doing about “Hell and the L.O.F.” which are 2 separate things according to Scriptures. That concept alone was enough to open my eyes to my misunderstanding of the “afterlife” for unbelievers.
The reality of what God has stated about fire is even more challenging!
We really need to seek the Lord about what He meant by this because it’s very powerful. God described himself with many amazing attributes like “righteousness, justice, equity, holiness, etc…” and I love these and have studied them extensively but, God has called himself FIRE.
He is not like fire. He is not “fiery”. He is fire.
Consider how Song of Solomon 8:6,7 describes God’s love ~ “love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD. 7“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it”
This word “Sheol” is often translated “grave or hell” in the O.T. and I referenced it briefly in the previous study about Hell. I don’t claim to understand this fully but it seems clear that love overcomes and is like an unquenchable fire.
Proverbs 17:3 says “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests hearts.”
Both the Old and New Testament are ripe with analogies of fire for purifying the people of God. The O.T. prophets referenced God using fire to cleanse his people many more times than John mentioned fire in Revelation. Peter, James and Paul all mention fire towards born-again believers.
Jesus actually warned the 11 faithful disciples about avoiding being thrown into the fire in his most intimate conversation ever recorded in John 14-17!
“I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15)
Imagine if the church today believed that even people as faithful as Peter, James and John were not above being thrown into “fire”. Do we believe Jesus and the Scriptures or do we believe the teachings about them passed down to us from men, many generations later?
One last thing to challenge what you were most likely taught. The word torment that is often used when describing what happens to people “in the fire” is the Greek word ~ “basanizo”
The Thayers Greek Lexicon lists the first definition of the word as~ “1. properly, to test (metals) by the touchstone.”
This torture/basanizo is even derived from “basanos” which is the word “touchstone”. Helps Word Studies describes this word ~” originally, a black, silicon-based stone used as “a touchstone” to test the purity of precious metals (like silver and gold).”
God is an all consuming fire. God is love. Love never fails. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. Love overcomes evil with good.
What if we have simply misunderstood fire…God’s unfailing love and believed distorted doctrine handed down for generations?