By Roger Hillis
Hell. What an awful sounding word. It brings up all kinds of bad thoughts. Many prefer to ignore it, never think about it, and act like it really is not there. But hell is real and people need to be warned about this other “home of the soul” that awaits the unrighteous.
It is easier to be lost than to go to heaven. More people will spend eternity in hell, separated from God and his glory than will gather around that heavenly throne. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it, because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
There are 234 references in the New Testament to hell, punishment, and God’s judgment on the wicked. Jesus had much more to say about hell than he did about heaven.
Hell is not some unpleasant experience we have here on earth, it is not merely a condition of an unhappy mind, it is not simply a person’s anguish, sorrow, and trials in this life. It is a real place of torment. It was said of Judas Iscariot, after his betrayal of the Master and subsequent suicide, that he went “to his own place” (Acts 1:25).
Please carefully read this series of passages about hell and notice both the descriptive phrases that are used and the absolute certainty with which the writers spoke of its existence.
But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire (Matt. 5:22).
And if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profit-able for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell (Matt. 5:29-30).
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28).
The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 13:41-42).
Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 22:13).
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “De-part from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25:46).
… where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thess. 1:9).
In summary, these verses teach us that hell is a place of fire, wailing, gnashing of teeth, weeping, outer darkness, prepared for Satan and his followers. But, perhaps the worst thing about hell is that it is eternal! Just as heaven is de-scribed as unending bliss and glory for the saved, hell is unceasing torment for the lost.
Notice these verses.
And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name (Rev. 14:11).
And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Rev. 20:10).
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15).
The fires of hell are unquenchable. Hell is a place of misery, confusion, and honor, forever and ever. There is no comfort, not even if some of your earthly family and friends are there with you. And in 50 million years (that’s accommodative language; time will not be measured in eternity as it is now), God will not change his mind and bring everyone up to heaven.
Some have tried to lessen the honors of hell by suggesting that the fire will consume rather than punish the ungodly and after a brief period, they will feel no more pain. But there is nothing in the Bible that justifies such a conclusion. If God could speak to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire, he has the power to create such a place as hell, the unquenchable lake of fire and brimstone.
The Inhabitants of Hell
Who will be in hell? This is perhaps the most important part of this study. We should do all we can to make certain that we will not be in this place of eternal torment.
Satan and his servants (Matt. 25:41). Hell was never intended for man, but those who serve the devil will spend eternity with him.
The ungodly (1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19-21; Rev. 21:8). The wicked people of all time will be there. From the Bible, it includes people like Cain (the first murderer), the homosexuals from Sodom and Gomorrah, Jezebel, Judas Iscariot, the Roman Caesars, Nero, and Domitian. From secular history, it includes such people as Benedict Arnold, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, and many others.
Some religious people (Matt. 7:21-23). There are many who care nothing for biblical authority and have substituted the teachings of men for the doctrine of Christ (Matt. 15:9; Col. 3:17; 2 John 9-11). In spite of their sincerity, such will be lost because they have not obeyed God.
Lukewarm Christians (Rev. 3:15-17). God will not accept any less than our very best. If we have been apathetic and lukewarm in our service to him, we will hear him say, “Depart from Me, I do not know you.”
All those who have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thess. 1:6-10). This includes all of those who were good, moral people but who did not become Christians moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, dentists, school teachers, neighbors, doctors, friends, classmates, and spouses. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and “the wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom. 6:23). Sin separates man from God and, unless one is cleansed by the blood of Christ, sin will cause that one to be lost eternally.
The good news is that no one HAS TO go there. By the grace of God, through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and our obedient faith, we can escape the fires of hell and enjoy eternal life in heaven. May we all have the courage to obey the Lord and then share that message of salvation with a lost and dying world.
Guardian of Truth XL: 1 p. 18-19
January 4, 1996