Hell is a subject that is very much misunderstood by many people, both
saved and lost. As this study progresses some of these mistaken concepts
will be mentioned.
We don't have a lot of information about the eternal state of the lost
person, yet we have enough facts to give the thinking person reason to
consider carefully the Lord's work on the cross for them.
Many today suggest that we shouldn't scare people into hell. To this
I ask, "Why did Christ talk so much about it for then?" I have heard many
many testimonies of people that accepted the Lord because they had heard
of hell and did not want to go there. Fear of the Lord may well involve
the fear of his judgments and justice!
Let us begin with a story. A man died and found himself near a large
entry way. He was ushered into a large mansion, and was told that all that
he desired would be presented to him. He began asking for the many things
that he had enjoyed on earth. All these items were delivered immediately.
He began to ask for things that he had never had on earth, and these as
well were delivered.
He realized after a time that all of the items he had desired had grown
common and uninteresting. He requested to see the earth again, and this
was granted. He gazed upon the sickness, poverty and war. His return to
his mansion and things left him yearning for something more.
The man finally asked if he could have a peek into the place of torment
- hell. The man standing before him asked, "So where do you think you are?"
(adapted from Woodson, Leslie H., "HELL AND SALVATION"; Old Tappan, NJ:
Fleming H. Revell Co., 1973, p 35)
Many in our day question the existence of hell. It has been reported
that someone said to Hugh Hephner, the publisher of Playboy magazine, at
a party, "If there is a hell - I'd sure hate to be you!"
VIEWS OF HELL:
There are four major schools of thought concerning hell.
1. IT IS EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT:
Some that have defended and preached this position: Tertullian, Augustine,
Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Wesley brothers, Chrysostom, Ambrose, Wyclif,
Savonarola, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, Moody , and many others.
Some creeds and works that have proclaimed this position: Athanasian
Creed, Augsburg Confession, The City Of God by Augustine, Summa Theologica
by Lombard, Institutes of the Christian Religion by Calvin, Paradise Lost
by Milton, and Pilgrim's Progress by Bunyon.
Simply put the position views hell as an eternal torment for the lost
of all ages. Hell is a general term for the place. It is also known in
the eternal state as the lake of fire. In the pre-resurrections era it
is termed Sheol.
Some view hell as a place where the lost go, but never realize that
Sheol and the Lake of Fire are also involved.
2. IT IS ANNIHILATION:
This position holds that God and good are eternal, but that Satan and
evil are temporary and will be destroyed in the end. This translates into
the lost being annihilated in the end.
Some of those holding this thought: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Richard
Wahatley, Richard Tothe, Albert Ritschl, Horace Bushnell Franz Delitzsh,
and Henry Drummond.
This view believes there is a remedial effect to hell, and that God
is trying to turn His erring children around.
Some that teach the position: Origen, Charles Chauncy, Immanuel, Kant,
Friedrich Schleiermacher, and Alfred Tennyson.
4. SECOND CHANCEISM:
This view sees that during this time before eternity that the rejectors
are in torment, but this is only till the end at which time all will be
given a second chance. Turn, and the torment is over. Indeed, I think that
the Mormon's view that all will turn or be destroyed. When doing door to
door evangelism in Colorado Springs years ago I was witnessing to a Mormon
and he told me that he believed that hell was for the purification of those
that did not believe in this life. All would one day accept Mormon teachings
of God or be destroyed.
THE PRINCIPLE OF SEPARATION IS UNIVERSAL IN GOD'S PLAN:
1. This can be seen in the nature of the soul. Man was created in the
image of God. From the beginning of a soul it must be eternal toward the
future to be in the image of God. If an eternal soul is not in a fit condition
to be with God, then there must be a place for that soul to reside throughout
2. Separation is a principal of life and nature. The dead are separated
from the living. We separate the criminals from the good citizens. (At
least in most countries. I'm not sure about the US anymore.) Garbage is
separated from good food. Trash is separated from good items. Lepers were
separated from healthy people before there was a cure for the disease.
Christ will separate souls, the good from the bad. "Those who refuse life
in God become 'refuse' in character sooner or later, and in the nature
of things must be removed to a place apart." (Dixon)
3. From the principle of Consequence. No consequence - no restraint.
That's why God gave capital punishment - to deter killing. He gave hell
to deter sin and rebellion. This has a very strong effect on those that
believe in hell or eternal punishment. Many religions have very strong
- good behaviour due to their teaching of torment.
4. History tells us that a place of torment is a universal concept.
All peoples have tried to please the gods to escape future punishment.
They have all had some concept of good place/bad place. The burial crypts
of the world give evidence of a belief in an afterlife. The ancient civilizations
placed food and water in containers so the person could have them in the
next life. Indeed, some of them buried the wife and servants for the man
to enjoy in the next life. Most peoples have served gods of one sort or
another out of fear of displeasing the god involved.
5. Luke 16:21 and context show there is existence after death.
6. All of Scripture declares a place of punishment.
In the New Testament there are three Greek words translated Hell.
1. "Gehen'na" (gheh'en nah) Valley of Hinnom outside Jerusalem (Taken
from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody
Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. pp 394,395)
"...a deep, narrow glen to the south of Jerusalem, where the Jews offered
their children to Moloch (II Kings 23:10; [Verses 13,14 show it was a burning
place for corpses (Josiah did this. Also II Chr. 33:6] Jer. 7:31; 19:2-6).
In later times it served as a receptacle of all sorts of putrefying matter,
and all that defiled the holy city, and so became the representative image
of the place of everlasting punishment, especially on account of its ever-burning
fires; and to this fact the words of Christ refer when he says 'the fire
is not quenched.'"
In Christ's day this dump burned day and night. This is probably the
final resting place and probably is equal to the lake of fire in Revelation.
2. "hades" This word is indicative of the intermediate state for the
Old Testament dead, and since Christ the dwelling place of the unrighteous
Things to be learned from this term. a. Lost of Old Testament are in
misery from death. b. Lost of New Testament are in misery from death. c.
Saved of Old Testament were there until the resurrection of Christ, but
now are gone. (Luke 16:19-31 shows the two sides of hades. Acts 2:27 shows
David was to be there for a time. David was looking forward to Christ's
resurrection when he spoke of hades. Verse 31 shows he was taken out at
Revelation 20:13 shows hades giving up the lost souls at the end. Rev.
20:14 mentions that hades is cast into the lake of fire. This term is also
translated grave. I Cor. 15:55, "Oh grave, where is thy victory."
The joy of the study is that Hades cannot hold the redeemed, for it
could not hold Christ.
3. "Tar taro'o" This word is only used once. II Pet. 2:4. Angels cast
into hell to await judgment. This may be the name for the great gulf that
is mentioned in the Luke 16 passage. Most feel that II Peter is speaking
of this location.
I once heard a young Methodist theologian mention that hell was, "Southern
California." I don't think that this would be a provable fact, and YES,
he was joking.
I would like to just list some references and some information that
we can draw from them. Num. 16:30,33 indicates that it is below the surface
of the earth in the Old Testament times. Luke 16:23 indicates that it was
still below in the New Testament period of time.
As to the lake of fire which will be the eternal dwelling place of the
lost, we are not told in scripture just where it is. Some feel that Isa
66:22-24 speaks of the redeemed being able to view the lost in the eternal
state. Rev 14:9-11; Rev 22:15 also indicate this as a possibility. If this
be true, then there is a possibility that it is just outside the New Jerusalem
as the original hell of Christ's time was. That city dump of the New Testament
BASIS OF OCCUPANCY:
Just who will occupy this place of torment, and why. The Scripture teaches
that all mankind will be judged according to his or her works. Within this
concept is one special consideration and that is the decision for or against
Christ. The decision to accept Christ places the person in eternal joy,
while a decision to reject Christ places the person in eternal torment.
After this decision is made there is still a principle of being judged
according to the works of the person.
Indeed, the Great White Throne shows there will be levels of torment
in that they are judged according to their works. The redeemed receive
a varying reward, thus it would also be logical that the lost would also
receive a varying degree of torment.
For the saved, works will determine the amount and type of rewards.
The lost will be tormented according to their works. Lost is lost, yet
there will be levels of being tormented it seems. (Rom. 2:5,6, "Who will
render to every man according to his deeds:"; Matt. 11:20-24 mentions that
it will be more tolerable for some cities than others in the judgment/Matt
10:15 is a similar idea; Luke 12:47,48 I don't like to base things on parables,
yet this one seems to indicate our point; Rev. 20:12,13, vs 13, "...and
they were judged every man according to their works.")
Even some of the isms of our day teach this concept of works being a
part of judgment. Zoroastrianism for example teaches that the person must
pass a bridge of judgment. If his good works outweigh his bad the bridge
is wide and easy to cross. However if his bad works outweigh his good the
bridge becomes narrow as a blade as he reaches the middle and he slides
into hell. Hell is a temporary place for these souls, but while there they
are tortured beyond belief. This torture is according to their lives and
how they lived. I ran across an illustration of the type of torture. A
man that had committed adultery was placed in a boiling pot, but because
he had killed many dirty creatures with his foot, the foot was left out
of the pot so it would not suffer. (From Persian Mythology; John R. Hinnells;
Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited; London; 1973) P 66)
There won't be any complaint about final punishment it seems. Luke 16:29-31
tells us that the rich man did not complain about anything. His only desire
was to keep his brothers from the same fate.
We have already seen that some believe that this is a forever situation
while others see it as a temporary situation. Forever or annihilation is
the question. The word for eternal seems to be eternal in nature at all
times. "That the 'second death' ('Lake of Fire') or gehenna is not annihilation
is shown clearly by Rev. 19:20 and 20:10. After 1000 years in the Like
of Fire the Beast and False Prophet still exist there undestroyed." (Taken
from: "UNGER'S BIBLE DICTIONARY"; Unger, Merrill F.; Copyright 1957, Moody
Bible Institute of Chicago; Moody Press. Used by permission. pp 394,395)
Rev.19:20 states that the Beast and False Prophet into Lake of Fire; 20:3
sets time before Millennium; 20:10 shows that the Devil is cast in 1000
years later and the Beast and False Prophet are still there.)
There are a couple of other indications that would show that the condition
of the lost is not annihilation. The angels in hell do not seem to be annihilated
either. (II Pet. 2:4) We have seen that Rev. 20:13 and others show punishment
is according to works. Why judge according to works if all are to be consumed?
The fallen angels, including Satan will be in the lake of fire, and
they are ever living spirit beings. When man dies, they become a spirit
being, thus by deduction man also would be an ever living being as well.
Eternal hell is the easiest interpretation you can find. Any other interpretation
is forced and causes doctrinal problems. Since the same term is used of
God and hell, to have one mean the stopping of existence and another usage
to show continuing existence is illogical.
I will just list some conditions with references and some comments.
DARKNESS: Psalm 49:19 "never see light"; I Sam. 2:7-9 they will be silent
in darkness (same word) as in Gen. 1:4 God divided light from darkness.
If you go into a seemingly dark room you will find after awhile that
you will be able to see something. But deep darkness is not so. While in
the Navy I needed a part to repair the radar. We were with a number of
other ships during a war games situation, so the radar was needed right
away. During such operations the ships run under what is called "darken
ship" condition. This means that all outside hatches are closed and no
light is allowed out on deck. The parts area was not accessible to me from
the radar room by going inside the ship, so I was forced to go out on deck.
Remember - no light - none - and it was very cloudy on top of everything
which meant no star or moon light. Dark is the term! Imagine trying to
walk outside on the deck unable to see anything - groping with your hands
- hoping nothing is in you way - the ship pitching and rolling slightly
- just enough to make it hard to keep you orientation. When you finally
see light there is such an overwhelming relief.
Imagine - eternity - ever in darkness - in fear of what's around you.
How many of you were afraid of the dark when you were small. I used to
get just as scared as Ichabod Craine did in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Ichabod was riding on a dark lonely road. Fear was already in his mind.
"Suddenly he heard a groan - his teeth chattered, and his knees smote against
the saddle; it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they
were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new
perils lay before him." He sees an unknown rider in the shadows. I won't
continue with the story because of its length, but I think that you get
I trust that you have some concept of what the lost will go through
in everlasting darkness. Matt. 8:12 mentions outer darkness as well.
BINDING: Those that say they'll be shaking hands with friends may be
wrong. From Matt. 22:13 we see they will be unable to use their hands and
feet. If this is true then the muscular discomfort will be tremendous.
We went to a service in a home. The service was in the basement. The service
ended in a time of prayer. We kneeled for prayer. The room was crowded
and there was little room to kneel. I only had room to get down on one
knee. Before it was over my legs were giving me fits. I was very near tears
because of the pain in my knees.
The armed forces have developed ways of placing people in a completely
immobile state. They are floated in a body of water for prolonged periods
of time. This is with no sight and sound - it is very disorientating.
What could you do in a motionless state? You could think about things
- dream - worry - etc., but sooner or later the inactivity would begin
to wear heavy on a person mentally.
SEPARATION: Have you ever stared at the stars and just let your mind
wonder - how far away they are, how lonely they seem. The lost will be
separated from one another.
Imagine never using eyes, hands, feet. Total separation from everything
but torment and thoughts. The voice will only be used for cries of torment.
There will be no one near enough to talk to, or hear you. Jude 13 mentions
wandering stars which indicates a separation. At any rate it is a certainty
that it is a separation from God and all that is good.
MEMORY: Luke 16 pictures the rich man as remembering his brothers that
have not died. (NO HOPE, Isa 38:18; Prov. 11 7, "When a wicked man dieth,
his expectation shall perish; and the hope of unjust men perisheth."
FIRE: There will be fire. The type of fire has been questioned over
the years. Since there is darkness, there cannot be light from fire, which
leads some to believe that it will be a very hot and pure fire. (Jude 7
"...eternal fire...."; Matt 5:22; Mk 9:44.)
QUESTIONABLE COMPANIONS: Rev 21:8; Rev 22:15.
LUST AND DESIRE: Rev 22:11.
PAIN AND TORMENT: Luke 16:23 "...being in torments...."; Luke 16:24
"...I am tormented in this flame."
Maybe now when we talk about the lost you will have a more concerned
attitude. Christianity needs a healthy dose of the Hell fire and brimstone
preaching of yester year to stir their hearts. Men, women, boys and girls
are going to hell everyday. Our responsibility is to tell them of the saving
power of Christ.
The Lost! Think about their state. God has prepared for Christians a
mighty, glorious abode. A city of mansions. A city for His own people.
I have no doubt that hell will be just as horrible for the sinner as heaven
is glorious for the saint.
As I've said, "Hell is only a four letter word." But remember its home
for the lost for eternity and that makes it a mighty important word. The
next time you ask someone where they're going and they reply, "To hell
if I don't change my ways.", will you still feel like laughing?
Hell must, by proper interpretation of Scripture be a place, a place
of torment, a place of eternal torment run on a system of levels so that
the damned can be judged according to their works.
The only escape route from this horrible destiny is through the blood
of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. So what, some would say. Let me illustrate.
In the Navy we had to go through fire fighting training. They had a large
oil pond they would set afire. We had to move in with an umbrella spray
unit that protected us from the heat. As we were fairly near they shut
the water off (which was protecting us from the heat) for just an instant.
The heat was tremendous - our faces were in immediate pain though we weren't
burned. They did this to show us how dangerous fire could be when it was
that large. If you've experienced great heat you'll have some idea of what
the lost are enduring now and what the living lost face.
As a child I used to think that pain was mind over matter. I used to
love to swing higher and higher, but to go high you had to work at it.
I used to wear blisters on my hands. I always tried to put the pain out
of my mind, but never succeeded. This is only a trifle when compared to
the pain and flame of hell. Can you imagine having to suffer that pain
As you cannot imagine how glorious heaven is going to be you cannot
imagine how horrible hell is going to be. If the demons were in fear of
Hell and torment it must be bad.
Another point to ponder. Scripture does not teach that God gives you
a second chance. Some teach today that God will hold up judgment long enough
to give everyone a second chance to accept Christ. This is false hope and
false teaching. As breath leaves your body your eternity is sealed - your
destiny is set. Getting to your final dwelling place is only a very brief
Hell - a four letter cuss word now, but the most significant word of
all to the lost. Consider Hell as you witness. It might put a little fire
into your witnessing.
I would suggest reading some of the old time sermons from Moody, Spurgeon
etc. to get a feel of some of the preaching on hell. Many of the great
revivals were based in part on the clear preaching of hell. Don't be afraid
to preach on hell today. I have ventured onto this limb a number of times
and the response has been very positive. Indeed, some have been saved,
even in the 80's and 90's with such preaching.
Christ spoke often of hell and the conditions there, so we as His followers
ought to preach of the same.