Hell is our reasonable, just and deserved punishment based on crimes against God.
The existence of hell and the surety of judgment are not the claims of fallible man. The Bible is the source of the claim, and it is utterly infallible. When someone becomes a Christian, he is admitting that he was in the wrong, and that God is justified in His declarations that we have sinned against Him.
What if someone says, “Well, I don’t believe in hell”…?
Well, if they are right, the good news is that they won’t know anything after they die. It will be the end. No heaven, no hell. Just nothing. They won’t even realize that it is good news.
However, the bad news for them is that if the Bible is right and there is eternal justice, then they will find themselves standing before the judgment throne of a holy God. Think about it. A holy and perfect Creator has seen your thought-life and every secret sin you have ever committed. You have a multitude of sins, and God must by nature carry out justice. Ask God to remind you of the sins of your youth. Ask God to bring to remembrance your secret sexual sins, the lies, the gossip, and other idle words. You may have forgotten your past sins, but God hasn’t. Hell will be your just punishment – exactly what you deserve – and you will have no one to blame but yourself. This is the claim of the Bible. If you do not believe it, it is still TRUE. It will still happen. What matters is what is true, not what you believe!
Yet there is good news – incredibly good news. We deserve judgment, but God offers us mercy through the cross. He paid our fine so that we could leave the courtroom. He destroyed the power of the grave for all who obey Him. Simply obey the gospel, and live.
Some who are enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season will brush off thoughts of God’s eternal justice by joking, “I don’t mind going to hell. All my friends will be there.” Obviously, those who flippantly say such things don’t believe in the biblical concept of hell. They are like a slow-witted criminal who thinks that the electric chair is a place to put up his feet for a while and relax. Their understanding of the nature of God is erroneous, so it may be wise to speak for a few moments about the reasonableness of hell. The Bible tells us that God will punish murderers and rapists, and the place of punishment – the “PRISON” God will send them to – is a place called “hell.” However, God is so good, He will also punish thieves, liars, adulterers, fornicators, and blasphemers. He will even punish those who desired to murder or rape but never took the opportunity. He warns that if we hate someone, we commit murder in our hearts. If we lust, we commit adultery in the heart, etc. All are sins that will send us to hell.
C.S. Lewis summed up all the terrors of hell when he said, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than the doctrine of hell, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, especially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by the Christian Church, and it has the support of reason.”
Take the time to consider the REALITY of hell what the Bible says about it. Some people like to picture hell as a fun, pleasure-filled place where they can engage in all the sensual sins that are forbidden here. Others accept that hell is a place of punishment, but believe that the punishment is to be annihilated – to cease conscious existence. Because they can’t conceive that a loving God would punish people in eternal torment, they believe hell is just a metaphor for the grave.
While it is true that God is love (1 John 4:8), He is also just (Neh 9:32-33; 2 Thess 1:6) and eternal (Psalm 90:2; 1 Tim 1:17). God will therefore punish the evil doer (Isa 13:11) and this punishment will be eternal. It will also be conscious. Scripture tells us of the rich man who found himself in hell (Luke 16:19-31). He was conscious and was able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse. He was not asleep in the grave; he was in a place of “torment.”
Luke 16:23 – And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
We tend to forget what pain is like when we don’t have it. Can you imagine how terrible it would be to be in agony, with no hope of relief? Hell is not just a place with an absence of God or His blessings; it is punishment for sin. It is literal torment, forever. That is why the Bible WARNS that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!!
Heb 10:31 – It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
The fate of the unsaved is described with such fearful words as the following:
- “Shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2)
Daniel 12:2 – And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
- “Everlasting punishment” (Matt 25:46)
Matt 25:46 – And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 24:51)
Matt 24:51 – And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- “Fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17)
Luke 3:17 – Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.
- “Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish” (Rom 2:8,9)
Rom 2:8-9 – But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
- “Punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess 1:9)
2 Thess 1:9 – Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
- “Eternal fire…the blackness of darkness for ever” (Jude 7, 13)
Jude 7:3, 13 – Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire…Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Scripture is quite clear: hell is a REAL place. It is not mere unconsciousness.
It is not temporal. It is eternal TORMENT.
If hell is a place of knowing nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go at death, Jesus’ statements about hell make no sense. He said that if your hand, foot or eye cause you to sin, it would be better to remove it than to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48)
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