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Hell is a place where the Devil and his angels will receive their final punishment. Matthew 25:41 Unfortunately, the wicked, who rejected Jesus and followed Satan, will also be destroyed in hell. Presently there is no hell burning anywhere; there is no Satan dressed in red leotards with a pitchfork roasting the wicked. The eternal fiery hell theology, where the wicked are tormented for eternity, crept into Christian belief from pagan beliefs. The Bible is clear, “the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age” Matthew 13:40-42 God is just and full of love! He created us; we are His children. It makes no sense for us when we die to either go to hell to be tortured, or to Paradise. If our destiny is decided when we die, why do we need a judgment? Also see John 5:28-29 Job 21:30-32 Imagine a justice system in which you are sent to prison and after many years a court will decide to review your case and then send you either back to jail or set you free. That would be absurd by any human standards, how absurd would that be for God’s standards that are infinite more just and loving than any human justice system. Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is important because it makes it clear that the punishment for sin is not everlasting life in hellfire, but death. Also read carefully Malachi 4:1-3 “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.” Definitely the prophet is talking about a future event that would take place for a limited amount of time and after which the wicked will be consumed and nothing but ashes will be left. The eternal hellfire doctrine attacks and distorts God's character. God is not a cruel, sadistic, bloodthirsty, vindictive Creator, who will punish his children for eternity. God is going to destroy the wicked who rejected Him because there is no other way.
This is to answer the question of "How can hell or "the lake of fire" last forever if 2 Peter 3:13 states that there will be a new heaven and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness?" I think what you are having an issue with is the word "dwelleth". The word its self means to live, so with that in mind. Hell and the lake of fire are places of eternal death. The Bible states (Isa 66:24) that the lake of fire will be a visual reminder to everyone, how serious God is about sin. The Bible states that Heaven, Hell, Angels, Humans, and the earth are eternal. The current heavens and earth will be renewed (it will be new to us, but it will be restored to the original state at its creation). Hence new heaven and new earth, that dwells nothing but righteousness.
We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want "any to perish, but all to come to repentance".
What is hell? Where is it? Is it eternal? Is it full of fire? Is God going to punish the people into eternal hell who disobeyed him or led a grave or mortal sinful life? These are the questions that often baffle those who think of going to heaven after their death and specially when they get frustrated, sorrowful and dissatisfied with the life's suffering, injustice, uncertain and unanswered mysteries! Rich people of course will experience hell after their death if they had not loved God and their unfortunate poor fellow beings during their life, with the unending regret of unjust, uncaring life of self care! See Refer Lazarus and the rich man. Lk 16:19-31 Let me be more specific quoting a practical life experience. When I am cross with my wife, son or daughter, parents, brother or sister life is a hell in our family! No fire, no smoke. But the amount of tension, dissatisfaction, discomfort is not less than the heat of burning fire! Yes, we all want to get rid of it. And by chance if it resolves with a hug or a kiss or an tearful embrace helping, forgiving and caring each other, we experience no other greater happiness than that! It surely is a heaven for everyone involved in it. We read it in the Bible story of Prodigal son, heavenly happiness was experienced by the prodigal son and the father, and hell was experienced by the elder brother! Refer here Lk 15:11-31 This is exactly the definition of hell and heaven after death. The soul is immortal. It has no shape, no form, no dimension and may not experience any heat of fire and does not perish but will suffer by it. It will experience the separation of love of God and of others which is much greater suffering than the burning fire. It will experience the heat of revengefulness, unforgiveness, restlessness, dissatisfaction, regret, jealousy, anger against others and even against God for not becoming worthy of heavenly happiness because of one's own vices and God being so kind and gracious to those whom the soul of dead did not like or approve of while on earth! And this has no end and that is hell, more than the heat of a billion degree furnace of fire! Which keeps lasting forever and ever. That is why the devils in the hell are dissatisfied eternally for not having reconciled with God and they keep tormenting children of God during their early life in various ways and temptations so that they may take revenge on God. But is there an end or a solution for their attempt? No, Never. God has atoned for his children's sins and mortal punishment of souls by the suffering and death of his only son Jesus Christ and hence opened the gates of redemption. And the devils continue to be sorrowful and be revengeful for eternity. So our Faith of church teaches us to be forgiving any of our fellowmen, even our enemies! And so if we do not love God with all our hearts, with all our minds and with all our strength and equally do not love our neighbor as we love ourselves, (Implies that we should love ourselves in its true sense for we are the treasure of God and not our own! So no self hatred allowed), we are sure to experience the hell that is already been experienced by the devils since ages. So the hell is real. Heaven too is real. They are not measured by geographical locations. But they are experienced by the souls after physical death in union or separation of God! As it is mentioned in the Bible, a new heaven and a new earth will be created where God will pour his grace upon his children who embrace the two greatest redemptive virtues of humanity, the love of God and the love of their fellow human beings and will reward them with everlasting bliss and peace. And to those who fail to do that, God will allow them to separate themselves to find their solace in revenge, hatred and unending unholy desires, which is a hell much greater than the burning fire.
One cannot place hell in our earthly dimension simply because our time space dimension or universe will have an end according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The torment of Hades or hell is eternal so it cannot be part of our time limited universe. Of course when Christ returns this whole sin affected universe will not wear out but will be burned up beforehand and be no more, praise God.
Down Under A politician awoke after an operation and found the curtains in his hospital room drawn. “Why are the curtains closed?” he asked the nurse. “Is it night time already?” “No,” the nurse replied, “But there’s a fire across the street, and we didn’t want you to wake and think the operation was unsuccessful.” Rotary Down Under, as quoted in Reader’s Digest Seriously, though, in hell, there will be 'gnashing of teeth'. It is when one grinds one's teeth together. Or to have one's teeth set on edge, or to bite down in pain, anguish, or anger. Part of what the gnashing of teeth communicates is a pain, especially when the gnashing is combined with weeping. When a person hits his thumb with a hammer, he will commonly squeeze his eyes closed and grind his teeth together hard. Hell is separation from God: Matthew 25:41 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Second Thessalonians 1:8–9 says, “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”--NIV Hell is a prison (1 Peter 3:19). The Greek word hades of the New Testament has the same scope of signification as Sheol of the Old Testament. It is a prison (1 Peter 3:19), with gates and bars and locks (Matthew 16:18; Revelation 1:18). Hell is a place where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched: New International Version where "'the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.' New Living Translation ‘where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out.’ English Standard Version ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ Berean Study Bible where ‘their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.’ Berean Literal Bible where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' New American Standard Bible where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED. King James Bible Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Christian Standard Bible where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Contemporary English Version The worms there never die, and the fire never stops burning. Good News Translation There 'the worms that eat them never die, and the fire that burns them is never put out.' Holman Christian Standard Bible where Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. International Standard Version In that place, worms never die, and the fire is never put out. NET Bible where their worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. New Heart English Bible 'where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Aramaic Bible in Plain English “Where their worm does not die and their fire is not quenched.” GOD'S WORD® Translation In hell worms that eat the body never die, and the fire is never put out. New American Standard 1977 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED. Jubilee Bible 2000 where their worm does not die, and the fire is never quenched. King James 2000 Bible Where the worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. American King James Version Where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched. American Standard Version where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. Douay-Rheims Bible Where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. Cross References Isaiah 66:24 "As they go forth, they will see the corpses of the men who have rebelled against Me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never be quenched, and they will be a horror to all mankind." Both Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48 use the word their to identify the worm’s owner. The sources of torment are attached each to its own host. Wiersbe sees Worm/Maggot as a symbol of punishment (Isa. 66:24; Mark 9:48) and Fire/Burning in Mark 9:47-49 as symbolic of Hell. The Abode of Satan The abode of Satan and his angels (Matt. 25:41), described in the Bible with the imagery of eternal fire, outer darkness, being lost, perishing, and the like, says it all. It is impossible to envisage a state that can be described in so many different ways. Clearly, it is horrible and is to be avoided at all costs (Mark 9:43).
There are two 'hells' described in holy scripture. Both are very real physical locations. However, one is a temporal 'hell' that will eventually be transferred intact with all of its current inhabitants into an 'eternal' one, after the Great Day of Judgment. The first physical location is called 'Sheol' by the Hebrews and 'Hades' by the Greeks. There is nothing particularly scary about this place, since scripture strongly implies that it is actually the birthplace of every 'earthly' soul, (Psalm 139:15). It is our 'home' as earthly souls and it is the vast location to which we inevitably return when we physically die unless Yahweh intervenes and 'saves' us from this fate through His holy work as Jesus Christ. You can imagine it as being deep within the earth and also under the seas, since many scriptures also describe the listless congregation of departed souls dwelling there as 'Sheol' also. The Holy Spirit clearly tells us that we have very little awareness there, learn nothing new, engage in no meaningful business or ambitions, and gain no wisdom by inhabiting this place, (Ecclesiastes 9:10). The New Testament Bible describes a 'change in management' of Hades, which was once managed by Satan, whom GOD placed in charge of the processes of human death and Hades, (Hebrews 2:14). The 'keys' are now in the hands of Jesus Christ, so He personally manages the souls inhabiting there while also presiding over the processes of human death, (Revelation 1:18). This 'new 'management' occurred as a result of Christ's work upon the cross and His resurrection. Jesus now has many new titles and authorized positions that were once held by the devil. The 'eternal hell' is called 'Gehenna' by the Hebrews and 'Tartarus' by the Greeks. By all scriptural descriptions, it is almost certainly the same location modern humans call 'space,' which would also explain the keen interest in it the lost have in somehow 'escaping' into it and finding a new 'home.' Jesus speaks of an 'outer darkness,' (Matthew 8:12), and confronted demons even address it in the presence of the Lord as their acknowledged place of future judgment, (Luke 8:31). Jude and Peter both describe Tartarus by name, (often translated as the 'abyss or 'pit''), as the 'place of deepest darkness and eternal chains' for the demons, (Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4). Jesus reveals that this physical location was designed by GOD to punish the demons and the devil himself, (Matthew 25:41). We are also told that the human souls currently in Hades will be transferred into this location after the Judgment to spend eternity with the demons, (Revelation 20:14), or more accurately, 'as' the demons, since the location itself was prepared for them, (not for humans), and because these human souls will be 'united into them' in a way similar to how redeemed souls will be 'united into Christ' as His holy Bride the Church. In the presence of GOD 'space and time' get collapsed into simple interactive allegorical phenomena, like the Garden of Eden, for example. So 'eternal hell' to Him is like a giant bowl of cleansing sulfur incense located right in front of His holy throne, pleasing Him similarly because of the righteous justice it represents in perpetually producing willingly praise from His defeated enemies and those who foolishly and needlessly rejected His great and matchless love for them while living out their short lives as human beings, (Revelation 14:10-11). GOD enjoys our praise like 'incense' too only for very different reasons, (Revelation 8:4). So even though we could rightly say that this vast location is almost infinitely separated from us in the 'physical' sense in heaven, GOD keeps a very close eye on it using His consummate divine technology and will even periodically have us 'go out to visit' this location, (Isaiah 66:24), as a personal reminder to each one of us of the narrative of what happens when we dare to call Him a liar and foolishly rebel against His love and sovereign will.
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