This is not a subject we delight in talking about, but in order to speak the truth, we must tell the whole truth, not just part of it. If we only tell part of the truth, then is it really the truth? No, it is not. Unfortunately, the subject of hell is ignored in most churches today. Rarely, does one hear it mentioned in the pulpits of America. Fifty years ago and earlier it was often preached upon. Twenty-five years ago, not so much. Today, not only is it rarely mentioned, but many are saying that there is no hell. Well, is there or isn’t there, and if there is, what is it like?
I realize that the Hebrew term “sheol” usually refers to the grave or death and not always specifically to hell. However, the Greek term “hades” usually refers to hell as a place of torment (Luke 10:15; 16:23) and the Greek term “gehenna” always refers to hell as a place of torment (Matthew 5:30; 23:33). In Revelation 20:14-15 the Apostle John writes of the “lake of fire,” where those who rejected Jesus Christ will be sent after the resurrection.
On the brighter side, are places mentioned in the Bible for those who put their faith in Jesus Christ while upon this earth. “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) was a place of rest for believers prior to the cross. The thief on the cross who put his trust in Jesus went to “paradise,” after his death. The Apostle Paul mentions being “with the Lord” in Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and 2 Corinthians 5:8 which is where all believers go after death. Then there is the “new heaven and new earth” of Revelation 21:1-4, where all believers will be after the resurrection.
Hell is a real place and everyone will go to either heaven or hell after physical death and exist forever. (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29; Revelation 20:14-15) What determines our final eternal destination? The determining factor is whether or not we have put our trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. (John 3:16, 36)
The Bible makes it clear that hell was originally prepared for Satan and his angelic followers. (Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:10)
Some people believe that there just might be a hell, but if there is, they will get a second chance. To the contrary, hell is eternal and irreversible. Once there, there is no going back, or second chance. (Revelation 14:11; 20:14-15) Also, the next event following death is not a second chance but judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Others think that there will be no suffering, but only a separation from God. However, Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48 and Revelation 14:10 speak of conscious torment.
I’ve heard some say that mankind just dies like an animal. They’re dead and there is no further existence. However, this argument denies the resurrection of the lost and conscious torment mentioned above.
The popular belief today seems to be universalism, the belief that all mankind are children of God and all will be saved in the end. This belief is totally contrary to the Word of God. First of all, God is the Creator of all mankind, but He is not the Father of all mankind. He is only the Father of those who come to Him through faith in His Son Jesus Christ, denying all else and depending only upon Him.
Are there degrees of torment in hell? Yes, the Bible makes this clear. Jesus said in Luke 10:10-12, “But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.” (Luke 10:10-15) He also said, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” (Revelation 20:13)
The main objections I hear to the reality of hell are that (1) God is love and would not send anyone to hell, (2) it would not be fair and (3) the punishment is too severe for the crime.
1- It is true that God is love. It is also true that because of His love, He rescues those who seek Him through His Son Jesus.
2- I don’t believe being fair has anything to do with it. If God were fair, He would send us all to hell.
3- I also do not believe that hell is as much a “punishment” for sin, as it is a “result” of sin. In other words, it is not punishment in the sense of “penance,” but punishment in the sense of “penalty or consequence.”
I have already stated that hell was originally created for Satan and his followers. His followers consist of those angels who followed Satan in rebellion against God, and also those of mankind who choose Satan over God by denying His Son Jesus. This is rebellion against God. Hell is real, and those who die without Christ will spend eternity in torment because they choose this destination. To not choose Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father, is to choose hell. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
God is holy. Sin is rebellion against God. Therefore sin is the antithesis of holiness. Sin and God cannot co-exist. Sin deserves hell. We are born in sin. Therefore, we deserve hell. What could God do to make it possible for sinful man to live in His presence? He had to make man holy too, by removing all his sin. How? By the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus, all who come to the Father through His Son, will be made holy. (2 Corinthians 5:21) There is no other way. All who do not come to Him through His Son remain in their sin and cannot be in God’s presence. Those who refuse His Son choose to remain in their sin and choose hell as their eternal destiny. No one can live in God’s presence unless they are compatible. Only He can make us compatible. If we refuse His offer, we choose the alternative by default.
God created hell and all its torments for Satan and his followers, but why such a horrible place? Why couldn’t He just completely eliminate their existence, instead of their suffering the torments of hell for eternity? I do not know the answer to either of those questions, but it does convince me of the holiness of God and the seriousness of sin. There are many things we simply do not and cannot understand on this side of the grave. The reality of hell is one.
The important thing to remember is that it was important enough to God for Him to make the ultimate sacrifice in offering the only way of escape for those who will choose it. He gave Himself as a sacrifice in our place to satisfy His own justice. If there is no hell or if it is not as bad as the Bible clearly says, then why would God go to that extreme, to offer the only way of escape, to those who will accept it?
Some folks will be very angry over this article, and that is exactly where Satan wants you to be. A few have contacted me in the past with hostility leaping from the page because they won’t accept the truth. Don’t allow Satan to make a fool out of you, by your not realizing the truth until it is too late. For some reason, Satan wants to take as many with him as possible. Why? It is partly because the Devil competes (in his mind) against Almighty God. His concern for mankind is the opposite of 2 Peter 3:9, “… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” My prayer is that many will see the truth of this horrible place and come to Jesus now before it is too late.