This article and revelation is very meaningful to me, as it is what kickstarted me being able to truly connect with God in relationship as a loving and personable being. Understanding that he is merciful despite his side of judgement and does not torture anyone for an infinite length of time. This cursed doctrine of eternal hellfire puts a black mark on the reputation of our loving Father. Sure it might help motivate Christians to evangelize more, but this is not a valid reason to teach false doctrine.
Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The above verse is one we all learnt long ago in sunday school. It is one of the first bible passages that is given to young children to memorize. And yet despite its simplicity this is also one of the most ignored and twisted passages of the bible. The majority of Christian teaching today agrees with and teaches the traditional but unbiblical view that all souls have eternal life even if they reject Christ, and that they will spend eternity suffering in hell unless they "become a Christian." This teaching causes anyone who accepts it to take on a false tyrannical image of God.... as if he created the human race in order to torment the vast majority in hellfire for all of eternity without any compassion or concern. The truth is there is a hell and a judgment, but once God's justice is satisfied against those who have rebelled against him, their souls are extinguished and they exist no more, they are not constantly tortured for eternity.
Revelation 20:14-15, "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
What is the lake of fire? According to the bible the lake of fire is "the second death." It is the wrath of God which burns the sin in a person's spirit until God's wrath is satisfied and they then cease to exist which is the "second death." The wrath will certianly be unimaginably horrific for those suffering it, but it will not last forever. The second death means exactly that; the punishment eventually ends in death.
Revelation 20:7-10, "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."
Notice that God does not torment the people who battled against him forever? Just the "devil that deceived them" is tormented day and night forever and ever (and even with him there will come a time when it ends). Everyone else who rebelled against God is thrown into the lake of fire, not to torment them forever but to destroy their soul from existence (verse 15), which is why it is called "the second death." Before their soul is annihilated, they must first feel God's wrath for their rebellion against him, this is what the lake of fire is, God's wrath. They once God's justice has been satisfied against them they simply cease to exist.
The belief in eternal hellfire goes back to the corrupt Roman Catholic church, which needed a tool to keep the populace of Europe in fear and obedience to them. Thus the Catholics decreed that all persons who are not Christians would burn forever in hell which would go on for eternity, and anyone who taught or believed the contrary view that their suffering ever ends was to be considered a heretic. Thankfully the Catholic church no longer holds the universal power it once did, and yet for some reason we still hold onto many of their unbiblical traditions. Eternal suffering in hellfire is one of those same Roman Catholic fables that has stayed with christianity right up to this day.
Does it not seem strange that so many preachers talk about hellfire that goes on forever and ever and ever and that all souls are eternal, "you just decide whether that eternity will be spent in heaven or hell"..... and yet when you read the writings of Paul whenever he preached the message of Christ he contrasted 'death' and 'eternal life' as the two options. If Paul had believed that anyone who reject Christ spends eternity in hell, dont you think Paul would have been screaming it out, responding to people who had a hard time with this doctrine, and articulating it in his letters? Isnt it funny no one in the New Testament seems to have the problem with eternal hellfire that people nowadays debate about? Why is this? Because they did not believe in it in the Bible times. Paul's message was that the world was lost dead in their sins and previously only had death to look forwards to apart from Christ... but now they could have eternal life by repenting from their lives of sin and giving their life to Christ, thus receiving the full forgiveness that Christ died on the cross to pay for. I challenge you to find any instances where the early apostles scared the gentiles with tales of everlasting hellfire; you can't because they didn't believe in everlasting hellfire. Read through all of Paul's writings and his missionary journeys, you always see the contrast of death apart from Christ, and eternal life in Christ alone.
1 Corinthians 15:54-57, "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
Paul clearly teaches here that the "victory" over death is the eternal life which comes only through Jesus Christ alone. People who reject Christ do not partake in the "victory" of eternal life and immortality, they die as mortals. The mindset and understanding is so crystal clear here. Paul and the people he spoke with understood that the salvation of Christ was not from neverending hellfire, but was from death into life, eternal life. There is no eternal life apart from Christ, this is taught so very clearly all across the bible, but has been largely ignored throughout all church history right up to this day.
The belief in eternal hellfire personally weakened my relationship with God for the time that I held it. I found it hard to see God as loving and compassionate when he would leave people alive in eternal hellfire, and hard to draw close to him. Turning away from this view in 2007 actually marked a significant turning point in my spiritual walk with God. It is one of the first revelations I recieved from God, even before operating in the gift of prophecy. By dropping the eternal hellfire view you should find it much easier to feel God's presence and enter communion with him knowing his wisdom and love. You may also find your prayer life and intimacy with God will also increase.