According to Scripture, what will God's 'fire' accomplish?
We can agree that God's fire is at times literal (i.e. pillar of fire) and many times symbolic (i.e. "He is like a refiner's fire") or allegorical (i.e. lake of fire). After studying many passages that spoke of the fire of God I was able to grasp some understanding and would summarize it like this:
God's fire will sweep over all creation in judgment, and whatever is in Jesus will be 'saved'. Everything else will be burned up. Indeed, He will make all things new (Rev. 21:5).
OK, now that I've jumped ahead and given my conclusion, let's go through specific verses that I studied to get to that point. See if you agree.
Let's start by looking at part of a letter Paul sent to believers in Corinth:"According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
"Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work."
"If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Cor. 3:10-15)
"For everyone will be salted with fire." (Mark 9:49)
"JUST AS" STATEMENTS
"So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age… and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 13:40) See Matthew 3:12 where it is explained, "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away [just] as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned." (John 15:6)
"And just as it happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking… but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17:28-30)
"…just as Sodom and Gomorrah…, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality…, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7)
GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE
"For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God." (Deut. 4:24, also Deut. 9:3, Heb. 12:29)
"You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble;My breath will consume you like a fire.
The peoples will be burned to lime,
Like cut thorns which are burned in the fire...
Sinners in Zion are terrified;
Trembling has seized the godless.
"Who among us can live with the consuming fire?
Who among us can live with continual burning?"
(Answer:) He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity… " (Is. 33:11-15)
"Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the LORD; and when the LORD heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp… So the name of that place was called Taberah (burning), because the fire of the LORD burned among them." (Num. 1:1. See also Is. 10:16-18)
FIRE AS DESTRUCTION
"But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:7)
"Then the house of Jacob will be a fireAnd the house of Joseph a flame;
But the house of Esau will be as stubble.
And they will set them on fire and consume them,
So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,"
For the LORD has spoken." (Obadiah 1:18)
"The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Matt. 3:10)
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned." (Luke 15:6)
"As wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish before God." (Ps. 68:2)
"Indeed, fire will devour Your enemies." (Is. 26:11)
"…a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries." (Heb. 10:27)
"For the LORD will execute judgment by fireAnd by His sword on all flesh,
And those slain by the LORD will be many." (Is. 66:16)
"Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense." (Num. 16:46, also 26:10, Deut. 5:25)
"For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze," says the LORD of hosts, "so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal. 4:1. Also see Is. 5:24)
"You will make them as a fiery oven in the time of your anger; The LORD will swallow them up in His wrath, And fire will devour them." (Ps. 21:9)
"Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries round about." (Ps. 97:3)
"Then He will also say to those on His left, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." (Matt. 25:41)
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT OF ETERNAL FIRE?
"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." Rev. 20:14-15
THE FIRE OF GOD'S WRATH
"Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads," declares the Lord GOD." (Eze. 22:31)
"Who can stand before His indignation?Who can endure the burning of His anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire…" (Nahum 1:6)
"On the day of the LORD's wrath;…all the earth will be devoured
In the fire of His jealousy,
For He will make a complete end,
Indeed a terrifying one,
Of all the inhabitants of the earth." (Zeph. 1:18, also 3:8)
"Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am about to kindle a fire in you, and it will consume every green tree in you, as well as every dry tree; the blazing flame will not be quenched and the whole surface from south to north will be burned by it. All flesh will see that I, the LORD, have kindled it, it shall not be quenched." (Eze. 20:47-48)
"Seek the LORD that you may live or He will break forth like a fire…And it will consume with none to quench it…" Amos 5:6
"They they will go forth and lookOn the corpses of the men
Who have transgressed against Me.
For their worm will not die
And their fire will not be quenched;
And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind." (Is. 66:24)
"Behold, they have become like stubble,Fire burns them;
They cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame…" (Is. 47:14)
"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD...Or else My wrath will go forth like fire
And burn with none to quench it,
because of the evil of your deeds." (Jer. 4:4)
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:12)
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind." (Is. 65:17)
"But the wicked will perish: Though the LORD's enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke." (Ps. 37:20)