The Lake of Fire: Condemnation or Purification?


Previously, I wrote of a couple of representatives of a ministry who have proved to teach falsely. After the challenge to read through their works, I decided to oblige. Below is the first of many rebukes through the Scripture, specifically referring to their message on the lake of fire and the second death (click here for the original)

It seems like an easy concept to follow: unless one would submit to Christ Jesus, they would suffer eternal condemnation, but, through Christ, man may be saved. John wrote of this, when he quoted the Lord, who proclaimed (Jn. 3:16-18),

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

This is a stark warning! Whoever does not believe stands condemned because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Simple to understand, no? Well, despite the simplicity of the message and the seriousness of the warning itself, there are those who pervert the message through minds tainted by darkness. That is where Paul Cohen and Victor Hafichuk of www.thepathoftruth.com come in.

In a message which was essentially written as a response to another, they make a multitude of claims which clearly goes against the Scripture and, not surprisingly, misquote the Scripture itself. The latter of which will be discussed primarily in the following.

The contention of Mr. Cohen and Hafichuk is that the fire from God is a purifying fire, pertaining to this, they write:

“Is being thrown into the fire good or bad for the one being thrown into it? We just heard the Scripture saying that those persons whose works are rejected will be saved ‘though as by fire.’ How can the fire be an evil end, unto itself, if the one subjected to it is saved by it?”

The Scripture reveals that God’s fire is indeed a refining fire, but only for that which He will refine; yet, for those that face condemnation – again, those who have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son – God’s fire is an eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46). What of Paul’s word to the Corinthians? In defense of their message, they provide 1 Corinthians 13:15, which states that if any man’s work is burned up, they will be saved though as by fire. The New International Version (NIV) provides us with a translation that is quite adequate for this matter, wherein it is written, “even though only as one escaping through the flames,” which is another way of saying that they will be saved as if they had barely escaped condemnation. In the context, those whose works were not burned up are being contrasted with those whose works were indeed burned up, where the former is rewarded and the latter suffers loss, not that the former was saved initially and the latter by fire.

“How will all Israel be saved if this isn’t so (Romans 11:26)? Aren’t many of Israel dead now, whether alive in this world or having physically died?”

Who is Israel, that is to ask: who is truly of Israel or, rather, who are the children of Abraham? Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, wrote (Chapter 9, verses 6-29) that the actual descent from Abraham is not what was referred to, but the children of the promise and he quotes from Hosea 1:10 in support, wherein God speaks, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” Even of Israel’s descendants, in the days of the Exodus, those who worshiped and danced before the calf were slain for their sins, condemned to death (Ex. 32). Scripturally, those who are condemned will be condemned eternally, yet many of Israel’s seed were slain by way of God’s wrath, because of their sin against Him. It is, then, essential to read the context of a particular verse in light of the entirety of the whole.

Of the lake of fire, they write, “The Scriptures call the destruction of death and hell ‘the second death,’” after which they include Revelation 20:14, which reads, depending on the version being consulted, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Or, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” Afterwards, it is written that “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” Again, the wrath is eternal and not a period of refinement.

What does one conclude? If one may enter heaven by way of purification in the lake of fire, because God’s fire is wholly refining, then we do away with the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion. This is a trampling of Jesus’ shed blood and the incredibly significant sacrifice on our behalf. Yes, God’s fire is a fire that may refine, but it refines what He will refine. To those who are being condemned, it is an eternal punishment, from which there is no escape after judgment.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo.

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7 Comments

Filed under Christian Apologetics

7 responses to “The Lake of Fire: Condemnation or Purification?

  1. Sean

    Man, oh man. Your theological position with regard to the destiny and destination of the majority of humanity is as grotesque as those of Arminianism and Calvinism. Anyone who fails to see the truth of so-called ‘Universalism’ has failed to grasp the true nature of God, as well as the multi-dimensional nature of manifest reality, including man. The ‘lake of fire’ is actually an Egyptian and Greco-Roman concept that reappeared later in the highly symbolic Judeo-Christian Book of Revelation, which any competent historian could demonstrate. And in any event this ‘lake of fire and sulphur’ is an esoteric symbol that relates to the Divine Energy of God’s Holy Spirit and the painful purifying and uplifting work effectuated in man’s second ‘body’ — the bioelectromagnetic plasma counterpart of the physical form, composed of much higher energy (‘supersymmetric’) particles than the material organism.
    I don’t, of course, expect you to buy any of this; nevertheless, the reality of man’s second ‘body’ will soon enough be commonly accepted knowledge, which will force us as Christians to review several key aspects of our soteriology and eschatology, irrespective of our theological and denominational indoctrination and allegiance.

    Blessings in Christ Jesus, now and always.

    • A buy-in requires evidence of any sort. For the Christian, the Scripture maintains full authority with respect to teaching and instruction. Please feel free to provide scriptural evidence to support your assertions and we can talk more from there.

      Peace and love in the Lord.

  2. LaVerne Haslett

    If there is any explanation that shows everyone is saved, I would like to know it. I do not see scriptural evidence of it. All Israel will be saved simply means “the seed of Israel” which is children of the spirit. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess is used twice. Is 45:22-25 and Romans 14. Both, as far as I can see, is talking about believers, the seed of Israel and Christians. I see a clear distinction in scripture because spirit and flesh, those that believe in Christ and those that don’t. Otherwise, why do we need Jesus at all, if everyone will be saved anyway?

    • I believe I agree with you in virtually every aspect of your comment. There is nothing in the scriptures to indicate that the condemnation would not be eternal; instead, the scripture contrasts the condemnation with life, which would be eternal. Going further, the warning are too dire for something that would eventually lead to greater things and the concept of the warnings only pleading to make things easier on the individual is absurd.

      My minor disagreement would be in the “seed of Israel” – this may just be a misunderstanding on my part. Romans 9-11 is essentially the section that refers to the true seed, which were not physical descendants, but instead were Israel’s seed as children of the promise, which all Christians (Jewish and Gentile believers) are counted as. Like I said, though, it was a small disagreement.

      • LaVerne Haslett

        I agree. The seed of Israel is the seed of promise. In Is. 45 when it says all Israel is saved is clearly explained in Romans as meaning those of the spirit. It says not all of Israel is Israel. I see no contradition here, but those that believe “all will be saved” don’t seem to understand this the same way.

  3. Dan Lysthauge

    You are in hell now. Do you really think God (Jesus Christ) made man just to toss him into ever lasting torment, you fool. You don’t know The Father or The Son.

    How many people die in their sins daily? Many up on many. You are wicked to say God doesn’t have the power or desire to save all of man. If not in this life He will in the next.

    Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24 NKJV)

    You do not know The Lord, you love the traditions of man, that is the man made elephant dung of Dante’s Inferno.

    You are deep in your sins, repent!

    Dan L.

    • I believe you are mistaken. Not one place did I make God appear to be impotent enough to not save everyone or malicious enough to not care if any are saved.

      We know for a fact that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This brings us to the fact that there is a responsibility in this life to surrender one’s life to Christ because people are “destined to die once” and then “face judgment”. Further than this, Jesus Himself laid it out plainly when He spoke about the separating of the sheep and goats, after which, He says, “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

      Jesus contrasts the positive, which lasts for eternity, with the negative, which also lasts for eternity. But, let’s assume you are correct: why is there such an emphasis to repent in the Scripture? Furthermore, why do you emphasize repentance? If a person is not at risk of eternal condemnation because of their disbelief, then there is no reason to deny ourselves of worldly pleasures because, at some point, we would make it to heaven. Further than this, to believe that all would make it to heaven would preclude the need for Jesus to pay the price, for each person would merely account for their particular sin cup.

      Very plainly, the Scripture does not support the idea that condemnation is not eternal and this is your problem. The bothersome part is that, in your hostility, people of weaker minds and faith get led into your particular flavor of lies. You are not sound in your reasoning and you twist the words of those who laid the foundation and framework of the church.

      Nevertheless, I hope this makes sense.

      Peace and love in His,
      Phillip Nicewaner

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