Hell-What Does The Bible Teach?
There are Only Two Destinies
On the Judgment Day, only two groups of people will step forth, “they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).
When the lost shall hear the great Judge declare their sentence of guilt, “I never knew you; depart from me,” (Matthew 7:23) where will those doomed souls go? When the righteous eyes of the King pierce the guilty one and no excuse rings true, what will happen? When the Book of Life is opened and the name is missing, what then?
An Illustration of Hell
A short distance south of Jerusalem, a deep ravine cuts across the landscape. During the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh, this valley was used as a place of unthinkably evil worship. Here followers of Molech dropped their children into the red-hot arms of an immense brass idol. They sang and danced to drown out the anguished cries as their little ones burned to death. The Hebrews called the place the Valley of Hinnom. In Greek, the name of the area is translated as Gehenna.
At the time of Christ's earthly life, the Jews used the valley as a place to dump their waste and filth. Into it were cast dead carcasses, as well as the corpses of outcasts and criminals. The air was thick and putrid. Fires burned eerily day and night. The stain of smoke never disappeared from the sky, and the fires never went out.
The Valley of Hinnom provides a vivid example of damnation and hell. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Christ’s listeners could easily envision an intolerably horrible place where one would burn forever. Eternal punishment after the Judgment is an established truth in the Bible.
What will Hell be like?
Its horrors cannot be comprehended. However, Scripture does provide some comparisons—a devouring fire, an unquenchable fire, outer darkness, everlasting punishment, torment, and a lake of fire.
Some may believe that these verses are symbolic of a burning conscience, a burning shame, and a burning memory that gnaws and consumes but never is quenched. Yet, fire and burning are mentioned so frequently and forcefully in the Scriptures that we cannot ignore the fact of literal hell fire. The Bible states that there will be weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
On the Judgment Day the unsaved shall arise to “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). In the resurrection the lost will be given an immortal body, one that feels and experiences constantly the sting of death but never dies.
Hell will be a place of remembering. In the account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man opened his eyes in hell. In this place the doomed man was told, “Son, remember.” When God says, “Son, remember,” it will be impossible to forget. Like an avalanche, memories of all the opportunities for salvation, the chances for repentance, the gift of grace neglected, and more, will overwhelm the lost. They will remember what they loved in life: wealth, fame, a good time, and themselves, but those very things will haunt them. On and on the memory reels, bringing up all the evil thoughts, the secret sins, and the lies. With the impossibility of forgetting comes the bitterest cry of remorse, “Had I only loved the Lord!”
Hell will be a place of guilt and shame. The prophet Daniel wrote, “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” (Daniel 12:2). When the eternal sentence of guilt rings from the throne on the Judgment Day, it will descend like an immense weight upon the condemned, dragging them down into a burning sea.
Hell will be a place offering no rest. “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:11). In our world, those in pain and suffering find moments of rest. Even the tortured have times of sleep or faint into welcome unconsciousness. Finally, death brings its relief, but in hell there will be no relief. The torment will be unleashed in unending torrents. The lost will cry out for relief, but none will be found. The lost will gnash their teeth forever as they toss and turn, searching endlessly for a moment of relief, but finding absolutely none. (Matthew 22:13)
Hell will be a place of utter hopelessness. The desperation that comes from knowing that those who enter there have no ray of hope—no chance of ever leaving—will crush the lost. They will become a forgotten people in a forgotten place. When God turns away and rejects those souls, doom will be complete.
In hell there will be no mercy, no love, no acts of kindness, and no grace. Hate will reign supreme. The intense remorse and sorrow, the begging, and the pleading will be to no avail. No one will listen; no one will care.
Hell will be a place of outer darkness. In the Bible, it is referred to as the very “blackness of darkness” (Jude 13). With darkness comes fear, evil, the devil, demons, and death. Hell is all of these, and hell is forever.
Forever and forever—in ten million years—hell will have only begun. The torment and the weeping will continue, and yet the dying will live on eternally. Here our minds stop. And maybe they should, for hell was not prepared for God’s children. It was prepared for the devil and his angels.
The Bible is clear in stating that those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8).
Today we are serving one of two masters. One, the heavenly Father, is loving and righteous. The other, Satan, is desperately evil. It is certain that the master we serve in time will be the one with whom we spend eternity. When the final judgment exposes our allegiance, on whose side will we stand?
God cannot save those who refuse to serve Him. However, He will be entirely fair and just. No one will go to hell undeservingly. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and live” (2 Peter 3:9). God is calling us to choose His kingdom, to stand on His side. He is pleading to save us because He loves us.
Those who find themselves in hell will have, by their choices and pursuits in life, decided their fate. Will we hear, “I never knew you; depart from me forever,” or, “Come, ye blessed of my Father” (Matthew 25:34)?
The Way of Escape!
Jesus has made a way that we can escape the horrors of hell. He came to earth and died to pay for our sins. If we believe on Him and repent of our sins, our sins will be forgiven. He invites us to come to Him and He promises, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). COME TO JESUS TODAY!