Close this search box.

Death Discussions Part 11: The Hot Topic of Hell


When Thailand police arrested American schoolteacher John Mark Karr in August 2006, investigators hoped a 10-year murder mystery had been solved and that the killer of 6-year-old beauty queen JonBennet Ramsey was finally in custody. Almost everyone thought they had their man, especially after the teacher himself candidly confessed, “I did it.” Yet shortly thereafter Karr’s DNA was tested and results didn’t match traces left on Ramsey’s corpse. Universally abhorred, Karr was labeled a sick, creepy craver of media attention, and released.

During the last four installments of these controversial posts I have attempted to systematically build my case from Scripture that although the flames of hell are certainly real and do await the lost, they will not crackle endlessly but will finally be extinguished at the end of the world. Unsaved sinners, after facing a just judgment before a righteous God, will ultimately reap “the wages of sin,” which is “death” (Romans 6:23). God Himself declares,

Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly, will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up , says the Lord of hosts, That it will leave them neither root nor branch (Malachi 4:1).

There are hundreds of Bible verses teaching the same thing – that the lost will “burn up” (Matthew 3:12), “be destroyed” (Psalm 37:38), and be “no more” (Psalm 37:10). Even Satan himself will become “ashes on the earth” (Ezekiel 28:19). This has been my earnest contention all along. Yet there are a few other texts that appear, at least on the surface, to pronounce me guilty of the crime of perverting Scripture. Am I guilty or not? While I certainly don’t identify myself with Mr. Karr, I believe a close analysis of biblical DNA will prove my innocence. More importantly, it will testify that Jesus Christ is not a Person who will endlessly torture those who reject His love.

That said, it’s time to examine some DNA about “the worm,” plus verses in the book of Revelation about being tormented “for ever.” In Part 12, we’ll discuss a man named “Lazarus.” Let’s start with “the worm.”

The Worm that Dieth Not

Jesus warned about being cast “into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched (Mark 9:43, 44). Many view this as evidence that I’m guilty of twisting the Bible. So let’s examine the DNA. First of all, by comparing Christ’s statement with Isaiah 66:24, it’s unquestionably clear that Jesus was quoting Scripture. See for yourself:

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men who have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (Isaiah 66:24).

This is precisely what Jesus Christ said. But notice carefully that Isaiah applied this morbid scene to the “carcasses” of sinners that God’s people will someday “look” at. In other words, at time’s end, the righteous will behold dead bodies, not living souls endlessly tormented. What about the fire that can’t be “quenched”? By comparing Isaiah 66:24 with Jeremiah 17:27, it’s clear this means that the fire can’t be quenched by man until it finishes its job. What about the “worm”? In the Isaiah text, the worm doesn’t die, but the people are dead . This is biblical imagery. In Bible days, outside Jerusalem, there was a garbage dump where the carcasses of dead dogs and criminals often ended up. Worms continually crawled there within rotting flesh. Jesus used this imagery, quoting Isaiah, to illustrate the fearful fate of the lost. But again, it’s dead bodies , not eternal torment, being described.

Tormented Day and Night forever

There are three places in book of Revelation that say, “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever” (14:11), “her smoke rose up forever” (19:3), and “tormented day and night forever” (20:10). “Those verses prove you’re wrong, Mr. Wohlberg!” I sometimes hear. Again, let’s analyze the DNA.

Everyone knows that Revelation contains some symbolism, such as its references to a seven-headed beast, a Babylonian harlot holding a golden cup, and a glistening woman clothed with the sun. Obviously, these aren’t literal. What about the ‘tormented forever’ texts? Could they be symbolic too? Here’s something significant: If you look closely at each ‘tormented forever’ passage, every one is connected to symbolism. Revelation 14:11 and 20:10 refer to “the beast,” and Revelation 19:3 states, “ her smoke rose up forever.” Whose smoke? The Whore riding the beast. Will a literal Harlot sizzle forever? No. This is symbolism .

Here’s more evidence worth considering: While Revelation 20:10 refers to torment forever, verse 9 says the opposite and contains no symbolism.

Verse 9 – And they [the lost] went up on the breadth of the earth [at the end of the Millennium], and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [the New Jerusalem], and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

Verse 10 – 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 forever and ever.

Verse 9 has no symbolism and says the lost are “devoured.” Verse 10 has symbolism and says they are tormented “forever.” Which is it? The literal truth lies in the text that contains no symbolism: “fire came down… and devoured them.” Beyond this, after “the lake of fire” is again described in verse 15, the next verse says,

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away (Revelation 21:1)

Revelation 20:9 says the lost are upon “the earth” when God’s fire devours them. Thus “the earth” is the location of “the lake of fire.” Then Revelation 21:1 says the “first earth” passes away which must include the lake of fire! Then there will be “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain” (Revelation 21:4). Here’s even more proof that “the lake of fire” will disappear. 

“I did it,” Mark Karr claimed, but he didn’t. DNA evidence revealed otherwise. Dear friend, I hope you are open-minded enough to accept DNA truth from the Bible. Jesus Christ is good. He’s not a wicked murderer (like Mr. Karr claimed to be), nor an eternal tormentor of souls .

One day soon, when the smoke clears, the entire universe will proclaim, “just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Revelation 15:3).

Related Posts