Is The Lake Of Fire In Hell, Real And Literal Fire – Spiritual Reading.
This is not so vital a question as the question, is there a literal hell, but nevertheless it is an important question, and I believe the question is plainly answered in the Bible, and plainly answered by Jesus Christ Himself.
To turn again to the passage already referred to, Matt. 5:22, we read: “But I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.”
These are Christ’s own words. He not only speaks of hell, but a “hell of fire,” and this too is from the Sermon on the Mount. In Matt. 18:9 the Lord Jesus says again, “And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; it is good for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire.”
And again in Mark 9:43-49, the passage read a few moments ago, we read, “And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire. And if thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy two feet to be cast into hell. And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out; it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell, where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”
Here again some may say the fire is figurative. Turn to Matt. 13:30, 41, 42, we read these words: “Let both grow together until the harvest; and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather up first [the tares, and bind them in bundles to barn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Now here is a parable and we have figures and there would be warrant, if this were all that we had, for saying that the fire was figurative, as other things in the verse are figurative; but in the 41st and 42nd verses of the same chapter we read, “The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and they that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire; there shall be the weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Here we have the interpretation of the parable. Now in parables, as already said, we have figures, but in the interpretation of parables we have the literal facts which the figures represent, but we see clearly that here in the interpretation as well as in the parable, we have fire.
Everything else in the parable is explained, every item in the parable except the fire, but that remains fire in the interpretation of the parable as well as in the parable itself. We find the same thing in another parable in verses 47 to 50, the parable of the net cast into the sea. Here, also, in the interpretation of the parable as well as in the parable itself we have fire.
Every other figure of the parable is explained by the literal fact that it represents, but in the interpretation of the parable we have “fire.” In the light of these facts we cannot deny the literal fire of hell without doing violence to every reasonable law of interpretation.
Furthermore [still, we read in Rev. 20:15 that at the judgment of the great white throne, “and if any was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”There is nothing in the whole context that suggests a figure. And in the 21st chapter and the 8th verse we read: “But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”
Remember furthermore that the wicked in the eternal world are not mere disembodied spirits. This is plain both from the Old Testament and the New. We read in Dan. 12:2: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Now this says “them that sleep in the dust of the earth.” The soul departs into Hades. It is the body that crumbles into dust, and it is the body that is to be raised. In the New Testament, in John 5:28, 29, our Lord is recorded as saying: “Marvel not at this; for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.”
Now it is not the souls of men that are in the tombs, it is the bodies of men, and this passage teaches the resurrection of the bodies, both of the good and of the wicked. In I Cor 15:22 we read, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” What Paul is talking about in this entire chapter is the resurrection of the body, not merely the immortality of the soul, and we are here distinctly told that every child of Adam gets resurrection of his body in Christ.
Furthermore, in Matt. 5:30 Jesus says: “If thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell.” Here in the plainest possible terms the body is spoken of as going into hell, and in a similar way in Matt. 10:28, the Lord Jesus says: “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
From these plain and definite words of our Lord it is plain as day that in the future life we are to have bodies, and that the bodies of the lost are to have a place in a literal physical hell of fire. While the bodily torments of hell fire are not the most appalling feature of hell, while the mental agony, the agony of remorse, the agony of shame, and the agony of despair, is worse, immeasurably worse; nevertheless, physical suffering, a physical suffering to which no pain on earth is anything in comparison, is a feature of hell.
Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.
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