In my last post I hinted at the idea that the lake of fire will be relatively empty. This, of course, goes against the traditional ideas that most Christians believe, but then, so does nearly everything I write on this website, so that’s nothing new.
So who actually does end up in the lake of fire? Revelation 20 and 21 are the chapters where we learn about the lake of fire and who ends up in it, so we should take a look at what it says in order to find out, but of course we have to also remember to interpret it with the rest of Scripture in mind, which means we have to read it with the understanding that anyone who is a true believer in Christ (and has joined either the Israel of God or the body of Christ, which are two separate groups of believers) will have already been resurrected and/or vivified (made immortal) at least 1,000 years prior to the time anyone is resurrected for the Great White Throne Judgement and/or cast into the lake of fire, which means that the judgement at the Great White Throne isn’t about whether one has believed either the Gospel of the Circumcision or the Gospel of the Uncircumcision or not. Instead, John tells us in Revelation that the judgement people will face at the Great White Throne will be based solely on their works (meaning they’ll be judged for the good deeds and the evil acts they performed while they lived on Earth — and it’s also important to know that they aren’t judged for their sins, since all sin was taken care of some 2,000 years ago on the cross). Of course, John then goes on to say that anyone whose name was not found in the book of life would be cast into the lake of fire. The question, then, is: Who are the people whose names won’t be found in the book of life?
Most Christians assume this refers to people who didn’t believe the Gospel and “get saved.” However, John tells us 8 verses later who, exactly, it is that will end up in the lake of fire when he says: But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
The first thing most people will say is that John mentions the “unbelieving” as the second category in the list of people who end up in the lake of fire, so it must be talking about “non-Christians” there, but it’s the fact that this is the second category of people in a list of different sorts of people who end up there that tells us John isn’t saying what most Christians assume he is (the fact that it’s only the second category in the list rather than the first is also very telling). If the people whose names are not written in the book of life simply consisted of people who didn’t believe the Gospel, the rest of the list would be entirely unnecessary. So whatever it is the “unbelieving” are failing to believe, it can’t simply be referring to all “non-Christians” (or even to all non-believers in Paul’s Gospel).
This is also made clear when we look at the last category on the list, where it says that “all liars” will end up in the lake of fire. Every single human who has made it to the age where they can speak has told a lie at some point in their life, but we know that not every person on Earth will end up in the lake of fire since otherwise even all believers would end up there, so it would stand to reason that this is referring to habitual liars (such as certain politicians, for example).
Basically, the fact that there’s a very specific list of people who end up in the lake of fire tells us that not everyone who is judged at the Great White Throne will end up there. I would suggest that it’s pretty much just the worst of the worst (your Adolf Hitlers and Donald Trumps and Billy Grahams) who will end up in there. Everyone else, likely including most of your loved ones, will continue on to live on the New Earth, albeit in mortal bodies (although they won’t die again since they’ll be kept alive by partaking of the fruit and leaves of the tree of life).
And, of course, we also know from what Paul taught us throughout his epistles that everyone who hasn’t been vivified yet by that point (referring to those mortal humans living on the New Earth, of course, but also to those who died a second time and had their corpses burned up in the lake of fire but who will be resurrected when Christ abolishes the final enemy: death — which has to refer to the second death since it’s the only death remaining on the Earth by that time) will be vivified at the consummation of the eons.