To whom it may concern
The following topic is one of great significance that I strongly think pastors and other religious leaders should consider very seriously. Hence, I submit the following for your kind consideration and publishing. I thank you very much as well.
Will God really burn people in fire forever?
I hereby kindly encourage those who believe in a hellfire to reconsider that teaching carefully. 1 John 4:8 states that “God is love.” Can we imagine a God of love roasting people in fire for countless trillions of years – forever? In English, some Bible translators translate the Greek term, Gehenna, as “hellfire” or “hell.” Eg: Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:43; Luke 12:5 etc. During Jesus’ time on earth, Gehenna was Jerusalem’s garbage dump. Also, dead bodies of executed criminals were thrown into Gehenna, since they were viewed as being unworthy of a decent burial. Since the criminals were dead and could not feel the heat of fire in Gehenna, Jesus did NOT use Gehenna to represent conscious torment in hellfire. Rather, Jesus used Gehenna to represent “everlasting destruction,” or being put out of existence for all time – never being alive again. 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
For instance, disobedient Adam was not placed in a burning hell. Adam returned to dust, to nonexistence, to the state he was before being created, as Genesis 3:19 states clearly. Dust is lifeless! Wicked ones will be destroyed in the future, returning to dust also. Psalm 37:9, 10; Jeremiah 25:33. God indicated at Jeremiah 7:31 and Jeremiah 32:35, that the burning of people in fire never came into His mind/heart. Such an act is an “abomination” to God, really disgusting to him!
Though Leviticus 20:14 speaks of burning a wicked immoral man, Joshua 7:15, 25 clearly show that God did not mean that he was to be literally burnt in fire while alive. Rather, the person was to be stoned to death first, then the dead, unconscious, unfeeling body burnt in fire. “Fire,” as we know, completely destroys objects, so it is sometimes used in the Scriptures as a fitting symbol of complete, everlasting destruction. Matthew 25: 41.
The account of the “Rich Man and Lazarus” is a parable, not to be taken literally. Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 13:34. Really, can we imagine the loving Almighty God watching persons, though bad, screaming their hearts out as they are burnt for trillions upon trillions of years with no stopping to such? Job 34:10, 12.
In conclusion, the loving Almighty God will not burn people in fire forever, highly unthinkable of him! God’s choices to humans are either Life (alive – in existence) or Death ( not alive – out of existence – Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). Deuteronomy 30:19; Romans 6:23. He will destroy wicked people by putting them out of existence forever. Again, I urge persons to carefully consider the foregoing as we defend the loving Almighty God. John 3:16.