Is “The Lake of Fire” Reasonable???
It’s not uncommon for people to say that eternal punishment in The Lake of Fire is illogical and unreasonable.
Typically, the objections fall into the following:
- God is too good to punish anyone.
- Eternal Punishment is too harsh a sentence.
- We’re too good to deserve Eternal Punishment.
- Human parents would never burn their children, so God couldn’t either.
- “The Lake of Fire” is just a ploy to scare and control people, especially children.
- The idea of the Devil torturing us is silly.
- If there were a “Lake of Fire,” I’d rather be there with my friends, than in Heaven with Jesus.
God is Too Good to Punish Anyone:
Many appeal to God’s goodness to reject the idea of Eternal punishment.
On it’s face, this appears to have merit, because it is definitely true that God is Good.
However, we will see that without Eternal punishment, God could not be good.
Think of it this way. Imagine a horrible crime. A young girl is kidnapped from her kindergarten, is raped, murdered, and left in a shallow grave. A horrendous atrocity!
Now imagine that the guilty man is captured. And we’re 100% certain that the Defendant is guilty. There is DNA evidence. He was caught on video surveillance. He has even pleaded guilty.
Imagine if the guilty criminal pleaded to the Judge, “Judge, I hear that you are a good person. Therefore, because you’re good and kind, I’m asking you to please let me go free.”
What would you think of a Judge who answered, “You know, I am good and kind and forgiving, so I’m going to set you free.”? Would that Judge be a good judge?
No! That Judge would be a monster!
That Judge would have his or her face on the cover of every magazine with the headline, “CROOKED JUDGE!”
God is not a crooked Judge. We all know intuitively that a crime requires payment, or there is no justice.
The Judge would answer the criminal, “Yes, I am good and just, and it’s because I’m truly good and just that I MUST sentence you.”
It is because God is a God of goodness and justice that he MUST punish Rapists and Murderers.
But God is so much more good and cares about justice so much more than human Judges. Because of his goodness, God must punish not only Rapists and Murderers, but also Oppressors, and Thieves, and Adulterers, and Bullies, and Liars, and everyone who breaks the law.
If God did not punish evildoers, he would not be good.
Tragically, the one who is hoping for “God’s goodness” to let him go free will find that it is God’s goodness that requires judgment and sentencing.
Eternal Punishment is Too Harsh a Sentence:
Now that we’ve established that God must punish lawbreakers, some argue that there is no crime that a person could commit that would merit Eternal punishment.
I’ve even heard some go so far as to say that even Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin aren’t worthy of Eternal punishment!
This thinking is flawed because it misses an essential principal of justice. It misses that the object of an offense influences the severity of the offense.
Think of it this way. Imagine a man killed an ant. What punishment should he receive?
What if the same man killed a dog? Now what punishment should be meted out?
Killing a dog is a Misdemeanor, and will likely earn a fine and some jail time. But notice that the same offense (killing) earns a different punishment.
What if he killed a homeless person?
Depending on the circumstances, one might argue that it was self-defense, or an accident. Regardless, it is very likely that this crime would earn a sentence of Manslaughter.
What if the same man killed his wife?
Though the same act (killing) as before, this would most likely be rightfully determined to be premeditated first-degree murder, and would earn a life-sentence or even the Death Penalty.
One more. Imagine he killed the President, or another World Leader?
Again, the exact same act as in the previous examples, but the consequences would be much more severe. Even an attempt on the life of The President would rightly earn a Federal investigation with the man being severely locked away.
Please notice the principal being illustrated. Though the crime is the same in all the examples, the consequences are higher when the one offended is a higher authority.
When one breaks one of God’s Laws, he or she offends an infinitely high authority. Our Creator is the King of kings and Lord of lords. There is none above him. There is none beside him. He is not merely a little higher than The President; he is INFINITELY higher than The President.
When we break a law against the Eternal One, the consequences will be eternal, and we all instinctively know this to be true.
We’re Too Good to Deserve Eternal Punishment:
“I’m too good” is often the most cited objection that any of us deserve Eternal punishment.
The argument goes that perhaps Hitler, or someone like that, might deserve The Lake of Fire, but not us.
After all, we’re all fairly good people, especially if God grades on a curve, right?
Imagine that you are a Judge, and you have a criminal before you who has broken the law not once, and not twice, but 1,100 times!
Such a brazen repeat offender, could you possibly let that criminal go free?
Of course, not! Not when they have thumbed their nose SO MANY TIMES against the Justice system. (Please remember that we’ve established that a brash repeat offender can’t be justly let go.)
God has a set of laws, and breaking them is called “sin.”
God says, “Do not lie.” How many lies do you suppose you and I have told in our lifetimes? Probably more than we can count.
God says, “Do not steal.” How many times have we downloaded or streamed music or a movie that we didn’t pay for? How many times have we goofed off at work when we’re being paid by the hour? We’re all guilty of theft many many times.
God says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” and none of us do that. We hate people and are rude and unloving all the time.
Think about this. If you and I break God’s Law only 3 times per day (and let’s be honest, we sin waaaay more than that). But if we sinned only 3 times in a day, then we would be guilty of breaking God’s Law over 1,100 times in only one year!
We are that guilty criminal!
Imagine how many times we’ve sinned in two years, five years, or a lifetime?
We already determined that we couldn’t let a Criminal go if he or she had repeat-offended 1,100 times, but we’ve repeat-offended so much more. We are that lawbreaker and God is a Good and Just Judge!
We are not as good as we think we are.
The Word of God says it this way,
Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20).
While it’s true that God will not punish a good person, we’re not good people. We have broken God’s Law more times than we can count, and since God is good, he can’t let us off-the-hook without being unjust.
Human Parents Would Never Burn Their Children, so God Couldn’t Either:
This common objection goes this way: “A Good Parent would never scald the hand of a child to teach him a lesson. Therefore, God would never send his children to a place that burns eternally. That would make God a bad parent.”
As with other objections, this one has some truth to it. God is indeed a good parent – the best actually!
The problem with this objection is exposed when we understand that while it is true that God would never send one of his children to The Lake of Fire, most of us are not one of God’s children.
The Word of God teaches that God only has one child, and that is Jesus. (John 3:16).
Everyone else has to be adopted into God’s family. This is done by being Born Again through repentance and faith.
The Bible says:
But to all who believed [in Jesus] and accepted [Jesus], he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
People often say, “God is the Father of everyone,” but this is an unBiblical position.
Unless we are Born Again, the following is the truth about who we are:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1,3).
Jesus himself said that our father is not God. Jesus said clearly that our father is the devil. (See John 8:42-47).
So, yes, God would never send his children to eternal damnation, but most of us are not God’s children. We must be Born Again into God’s family. Then, and only then, we become an adopted Child of God!
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure (Ephesians 1:5).
Please make certain that you are a true adopted Child of God! This comes through repentance and faith!
“The Lake of Fire” is Just a Ploy to Scare and Control People, Especially Children:
Two things can be true at the same time. It is true that “The Lake of Fire” is terrifying, and it is also true that it can and has been used to control people, especially children.
Yes, “The Lake of Fire” has been used to control, manipulate, and even exploit people. The Roman Catholic Church has misused “The Lake of Fire” to extract millions of dollars from fearful people, and that should never be.
While it is true that “The Lake of Fire” has been used improperly, the logical conclusion is not the denial of its existence.
Existence is the essential question that must be answered. Does “The Lake of Fire” actually exist?
Jesus believed that “The Lake of Fire” exists, and he taught on it and described it more than he did Heaven.
Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man (one of Jesus’ titles for himself) will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand! (Matthew 13:40-43).
Why did Jesus talk so much about “The Lake of Fire?” Was it because he was cruel, or wanted to scare and control people? No, Jesus talked about The Lake of Fire because he is good. He wants us to be warned not to go there.
Every parent understands this concept. Why do we tell our children not to touch the hot stove, or not to run into the street, or not to put metal objects into electrical outlets?
Do we do this as a ploy to scare and control people, especially children? Don’t we know that children could have nightmares over the thought of burning their flesh on the stove, or being run over by a car, or electrocuting themselves?
We warn children about these dangers because these dangers are real. We warn our children because we love them.
Jesus warned us about “The Lake of Fire” because the danger is real. He warned us because he loves us.
And so we should warn people like Jesus did. Not to scare and control them, but to lovingly alert them of the tremendous and real danger.
Horribly, this is how it will end for many, and this is why we lovingly warn people:
Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
Jesus said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand” (Matthew 13:43).
If you have not become Born Again by repenting of your sins and placing your faith in the Jesus of the Bible, I urge you to do it immediately. Please “listen and understand.”
The Idea of the Devil Torturing Us is Silly:
Sometimes people object to the idea of “the Devil in a Red Suit and a tail torturing us.” The whole thing seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?
And to that we agree. It is silly. It’s also not what happens.
We must get our understanding of God, the Devil, and the Afterlife from the Bible, and not from Mythology, Dante’s Inferno, or The Far Side.
There is a fallen angel who is called the Devil, but he is not the “King of Hell,” in charge, and torturing people.
The Lake of Fire was made for the Devil to be punished, not exalted as being in charge. The Devil being in charge of The Lake of Fire is a pagan idea that is not in the Bible.
The Word of God says:
Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever… And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10,15).
Jesus himself said that The Lake of Fire was made for the Devil to be punished.
Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, “Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons” (Matthew 25:41).
The Devil is not an ugly creature, like in the photo above. He will one day deceive the whole world. He is intelligent, and powerful, charismatic, and beautiful (on the outside.) The Bible says “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
The Devil is not in charge of The Lake of Fire. He does not wear a red suit. He doesn’t have a tail. He is, however, the Father of Lies, and he will deceive the whole world, except for those who have been rescued by Jesus.
We plead with you to follow Jesus, and not be snared by the one who is very good at deceiving people.
If There Were a “Lake of Fire,” I’d Rather Be There With My Friends, Than In Heaven With Jesus:
This objection isn’t so much an objection, as it is a tragic misunderstanding. And sadly, we hear it A LOT.
The idea is that Heaven seems boring, whereas The Lake of Fire seems like a lot of fun!
Many mistakenly have convinced themselves that The Lake of Fire will be a huge party with their friends, with Rock Music, fast living, and nobody telling them what to do.
But this isn’t at all what The Lake of Fire is like.
Since none of us have been to either Heaven or The Lake of Fire, we must look to Jesus as the Authority on what these places are like. As God, he is the expert. (If you’re looking for evidence that Jesus is God, and does speak with Authority, please see our article, Is There Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?)
Jesus, the perfect all-knowing Son of God, described The Lake of Fire as:
- “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41)
- “outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12) (Matthew 25:30)
- “eternal destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from his glorious power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
- “fiery lake of burning sulfur,” where those cast in “will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10-15)
- “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46)
- a place where “the smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night” (Revelation 14:11)
- “unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:43)
- a place “where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:48)
- “everlasting disgrace” (Daniel 12:2)
- those who are cast there are “doomed forever to blackest darkness” (Jude 13)
The Lake of Fire is not a fun place where you’ll hang out with your friends. It’s a terrible place, and I can guarantee that if you truly understood what it was like, you wouldn’t want to go there. Jesus demonstrated his great love by making it possible for us to avoid the judgment of God. This is the best news ever!
It has not been enjoyable for me to write this article. This topic is intensely serious and requires sober thinking. None of us are happy about the thought of an eternal punishment, but since it is real, we must warn others about it.
We plead with you to run to the One who has defeated sin and death. His name is Jesus!
I am the living one. I died, but look – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave (Revelation 1:18).
Of course this brings up an important question: Would you really want to spend Eternity with Jesus?
I spend a lot of time talking with unbelievers about Jesus. I often pose this question, “If I could answer all your objections, and you honestly believed that Jesus is Lord, would you bow down and worship him?”
And do you know what nearly 100% of the people say to that question? Almost every single time they say, “No, I wouldn’t bow down and worship him.”
And that’s the problem.
People don’t turn away from Jesus because there’s not enough evidence. There’s plenty of evidence everywhere! (Please see our article entitled, Evidence for Faith.)
People turn away from Jesus because they love their sin and don’t want anyone telling them what to do.
God’s Word says it this way:
God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil (John 3:19)
See? We like our sin. This is evidence that our heart is broken. This is why we need to be Born Again. When we are Born Again, God gives us a new heart and gives us the Holy Spirit, and this changes our affections. We will no longer love sin. We’ll love God.
We’ll fulfill the promise of the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel, written more than 500 years before Jesus came to earth). God says, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
We can’t escape The Lake of Fire on our own. We need The Savior. He is Jesus. There is no other.
Please repent of your sin and turn to Jesus, and you’ll be able to say, with the rest of the redeemed, “Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
There is GREAT NEWS: Jesus will save us if we turn from our sin (repentance) and believe the gospel message (faith). Please see our Gospel Message presentation at this website by clicking here.