is not only loving; he is just and holy. And justice requires punishment
Scripture teaches that the spirits of
men are fully conscious after separation from the body at death:
1) They can speak:
2) They can cry:
Matthew 8:11, 12;
13:43, 50; 22:13
3) They can hear:
Peter 3:18-20; 4:6
4) They can see:
5) They can feel pain:
Luke 16:23, 24
6) They have memory:
Rejecting the concept of
eternal torment does not change the fact any more than believing the
earth was flat made it not round. Either Jesus was a liar, or many
modern theologians are in for a big surprise!
What Americans Believe*:
Is there a Hell?
Don't know 9%
What will Hell be like?
A real place of suffering eternal fiery torments 34%
An anguished state of existence 53%
Don't know 11%
* From a US
News Poll 1/31/00
(a bible study outline)
Since the beginning of time, man has been fascinated with thoughts of the
afterlife. This curiosity is reflected in the literature of virtually every
Just recently, the cover story of a national newsmagazine examined Americans'
belief in the netherworld.1
According to a survey published in the Mar. 25, 1991 issue of U.S. News &
World Report, 3 out of 5 Americans now believe in Hades (up 4 percent from
1965). Of those surveyed, however, only 4 percent feel they themselves have a
good chance of going there. [A January 31, 2000 story in the same publication
indicates these figures have not changed much.]
While 60 percent of Americans believe in the existence of hell, their ideas
of the place vary considerably. Nevertheless, and probably as a deterrent, God
has revealed more to us in Scripture on the topic of hell, than is even said of
The Bible is very descriptive of the intense pain (Rev. 16;10) and torment2
(Luke 16:23-28; Rev. 14;10, 11) experienced by the ungodly after death.
Hell is not a mere psychological or emotional distress, a some would suggest,
but actual physical agony.3
Some would suppose that these descriptions are merely symbolic in meaning.
Such rationalization might be reasonable in the Book of Revelation, which is
clearly metaphorical. However, in the gospel accounts, and elsewhere in
Scripture, this is not so. When Jesus spoke figuratively i.e., in parables, he
said so. All of his parabolic stories were prefaced with phrases such as,
"Hear then the parable..."
In Luke's account of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus did not preface his
story with such a statement; hence, it would be mere supposition to state that
he spoke metaphorically. When Jesus taught, his purpose was to instruct and
clarify, not confuse.
It should be pointed out that the original languages in which the Scriptures
were written utilized several words in reference to the abode of the dead. The
referred to the place of the dead. Its New Testament counterpart is Hades5,
sometimes translated "Hell" (speaking of punishment) or
"grave" (when referring to the souls of the righteous). It is also
used to define the place where the soul resides between death and resurrection.
Gehenna is the place of torment6
usually spoken of as "hell" in common usage today. The Greek
tartarus (2 Pet. 2:4) is thought by many to refer to the nether world.
At times, sheol is translated "grave,"7
Translations can vary on the rendering of the word, but marginal helps can
clarify any confusion that might arise.
The doctrine of eternal punishment has been challenged and perverted by many.
It is one of the primary doctrines distorted (or denied) by the cults. Jehovah's
Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists and Christadelphians, for example, teach a
complete annihilation of the wicked and deny and consciousness after death.9
(This is sometimes referred to as "soul sleep.") Christian Science and
Unitarianism reject entirely the doctrine of final judgment. In every
modification of the doctrine, hell is never depicted as more severe than
Scripture portray it. Attempts to soothe (unrepentant) sinners' fears, and
increase membership, offer only a false sense of security.
False prophets tell people what they want to hear. (Jer. 23:13-17, 21, 22)
Without a sincere love for the Truth, they deceive others as well as themselves
(2 Tim. 3:13). They pervert the Scripture, and "twist" the scriptures
"to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16). Popularity, however, has
never been a test for truth. In fact, Jesus said that we should beware
"when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false
If they hated and persecuted him, he said, they will do the same to us.11
Daniel was thrown to the lions.12
Jeremiah was cast into a pit.13
Amos was told to leave town.14
John was beheaded.15
Paul was imprisoned.16
Stephen was stoned.17
Jesus was crucified.
"They will put you out of the synagogues," Jesus said, adding that
"the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering
service to God." (Jn. 16:2) They love darkness (willful ignorance), rather
than light (truth, which exposes sin and error). (Jn. 3:19)
As humans, the tendency always exists to want to bring down to the level of
our own understanding, spiritual things. Since the beginning of history, it has
been so. However, spiritual things cannot be perceived by the natural mind; they
must be spiritually understood. (1 Cor. 2:13, 14) That is why Jesus Christ sent
the Holy Spirit -- to "teach you all things." (Jn. 14;26)
What will hell really be like?
First of all, it will be total separation from God
(Mat. 25:41; 2 Thes.
1:9) It will be a place of misery and pain,18
where only the wicked will reside.19
And it will be eternal.20
There will be no escape, "No Exit."
Throughout the Old and New Testaments, hell was described as a place of fire
This "bottomless pit"22
is a "great furnace"23
in "outer darkness" (Mat. 8:12; 22:13), covered with a "mist of
blackness (or, darkness)" (2 Pet. 2:17; Jude 13). "There will be
wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Mat. 18:41, 42; Luke 13:28)
The question often arises, How could a loving God commit his creation to such
a horrible place of punishment? This question has given way to all kinds of
perverted interpretations of Scripture. First of all, it must be pointed out
that God is not only loving; he is just. And he is holy. The fact is, "all
have sinned" and, therefore, deserve punishment -- apart form Jesus Christ.
It was by our own choice that we failed to keep his commandments. The
Father has gone out of his way to show us the Truth -- through creation (Rom. 1),
in His Word, and by His Son.
God sends no one to hell; anyone who goes there, goes by choice. God is
merciful. But he is also just. "Behold therefore the goodness and the
severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness..."
--Scripture quotations are from "The New Oxford Annotated
Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version," copyright 1973, 1977
by Oxford University Press, Inc.