NDEs and the Bible affirm Universal Salvation-Continued
C. Once a person has been purified by the "fire," they can escape.
"For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
The above verse describes a process of purification and a way to escape it.
"But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." (Matthew 5:22-26).
The above verse has Jesus equating hell to a prison that allows prisoners to get out.
"Prison" was used as a metaphor for hell in a verse we have already discussed. Here it is again:
"He [Jesus] was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built." (1 Peter 3:18-20).
Here is another scriptural reference to hell as a prison:
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into
gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment." (2 Peter 2:4)
D.“Eternal" is a word used to describe the nature of hell, not the length of incarceration.
The Bible talks of the unquenchable fire and eternal punishment of hell, where people are in torment, but not consumed:
"The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I [John the Baptist] baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:10-12)
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out... And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.' Everyone will be salted with fire." (Mark 9:43-49)
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:41-46)
This description of hell agrees with what experiencers have experienced. Don Brubaker experienced these flames of hell first hand. This is what he experienced: There was a low murmuring all around me, as if I was in the midst of a huge group of grumbling people. Before me, suddenly, stood a huge black door. The air began to glow and shimmer with oppressive heat.
I watched as the door opened upon a vast, flaming oven. I felt myself drawn like a magnet into the center of the flames -- although I was terrified to go in. There were hundreds of others already there, roasting to death, but not dead. Once I was inside, the door slammed shut behind me. The worst, dreadest feelings sloshed around inside me, like so much poison.
"Is this actually what hell is?" I asked aloud. I passed my hands through blue-tipped flames. The fire itself was cold, and it did not hurt me.
From nowhere, a thought flashed through my mind: Death, where is thy sting? God, even in the midst of this holocaust, was truly in control of everything. I began to laugh, and the others laughed with me. Our laughter bounced off the walls of the oven and echoed over the roar of the flames.
And instantly, as if someone had flipped the channel selector, I was alone again in darkness. (100)
Don Brubaker's experience shows the flames of hell are not painful and are escapable.
E.“Fire" is a metaphor used to describe the purification of people on Earth.
The Bible talks of people on Earth being purified, refined and baptized by fire. These are all referring to the process of purification.
"These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire -- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:7)
"I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline." (Revelation 3:18-19)
"But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver." (Malachi 3:2-3)
"He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire." (Isaiah 4:4)
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matthew 3:11)
F.“Fire" is a metaphor also used to describe God and manifestations of God.
The verses below describe God and manifestations of God through the metaphor of fire. These verses also use the metaphor of fire as a reference to the purifying power of God.
"Our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:29)
"Do not put out the Spirit's fire."
(1 Thessalonians 5:19)
"They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated, resting on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." (Acts 2:3-4)
"In speaking of the angels he says, 'He makes his angels winds, his servants flames of fire.'" (Hebrews 1:7)
"This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels." (2 Thessalonians 1:7)
"I [Jesus] have come to bring fire on the Earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" (Luke 12:49)