The Reality Of Hell

Death in sin carries with it dismal effects.  The wages of sin is death even "the second death" (Revelation 21:8).  Sin has shame for its companion in life, and hell for its wages thereafter.  Yet there is a negligence of witness to this sterner side of the Gospel.  We fear that too many dwell exclusively upon the goodness of God, forgetting that goodness and severity are His twin attributes.  Those who are eternally lost will suffer no more for their sins than Christ endured when He died for sin.

Future retribution is only alluded to: eternal punishment almost never taught in the pulpit today - to the honor of the pulpit and the honor of God, be it said.  As hell is still in the Bible, is it not to the dishonor of pulpits if they deny such a truth?  Silence as to "the weeping and gnashing of teeth" Jesus spoke of (Matthew 25:30) does more to populate hell than the blashemies of Tom Paine and Robert Ingersoll combined.  Jesus possessed the tenderest heart that ever throbbed in a human breast, yet He constantly alluded to the certain, terrible and unending suffering of those who died lost.  He taught eternal punishment with a boldness, plainness and awful significance no human preacher dare imitate unless he has a Calvary heart for the unsaved.

Accepting the Bible as an inspired revelation, we take for granted the clear evidence it presents of hell. It is a fact so personal and solemn that God has not hidden it, nor is He silent concerning it.  God has written it large upon the sacred page so that the wayfaring man, through a fool may read it.  In unmistakable language, the Bible speaks of unending joy of the saved, and of unending torment for the lost, urging the latter to flee from the wrath to come.

Hell is described as being "beneath" (Proverbs 15:24).  "Hell is far under the earth as heaven is above it."  Luke tells us that the devils besought Christ to command them to go into the deep (Luke 8:31).  Hell, then, is in the deep.  But the wise Chrysostom warns us, "Let me not so labor to know where hell is, as how to escape it."

                               The Nature Of Hell

Dwelling upon the fact and nature of hell, we use the phrase, "eternal punishment," in its natural and obvious meaning - eternal, which implies "unending."  The continuity of hell must be the same as that of heaven, for the same words are used to describe both (Matthew 25:46).  Punishment represents "conscious suffering."  Let me try to condense Biblical material on this solemn subject:

1. The soul of man neither dies nor falls into unconsciousness when the body dies.  Sinners do not cease to be, and saints do not go to sleep until the resurrection of the just.  Personality is indestructible.  Conscious survival after death is clearly taught in Scripture (Luke 16:19-31; II Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Hebrews 12:22,23; Revelation 6:9,10).

2. All who die out of Christ go to hell.  The Old Testament word for hell is Sheol, and is used in the double sense.  First of all, it represents the grave to which the bodies of both the righteous and the wicked go (Genesis 37:35; I Kings 2:6,9; Psalm 6:5; Hosea 13:14).  Then Sheol stands for the place of future punishment (Psalms 9:17; 55:15; 116:3; Proverbs 7:27; Isaiah 28:15-18).

The New Testament word for hell is Hades, and corresponds to Sheol.  Whether Hades represents the grave or a definite place of conscious punishment must be determined by the context (Luke 16:23-25; Revelation 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-15; I Corinthians 15:55).

Other designations for the place of eternal torment prepared for the devil and his angels (Mathew 25:41) are -

  • Gehenna (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:43-48; James 3:6)
  • Eternal damnation (Mark 3:29)
  • Outer darkness (Matthew 8:12)
  • Resurrection of damnation (John 5:29)
  • Second death (Revelation 2:11; 21:8)
  • Everlasting destruction (Psalm 9:27; II Thessalonians 1:9)
  • Blackness of darkness (II Peter 2:4; Jude 13)
  • The curse of God (Deuteronomy 27:26; Galatians 3:10)
  • The wrath of God (John 3:36; Romans 1:18)
  • The Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:15)
  • Eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46)
  • Bonds and chains (II Peter 2:4)
  • Worm of conscience (Mark 9:44)
  • Company of demons (Matthew 25:41)
  • Unending torments (Revelation 14:11)

These and other designations describe the dreadfulness of hell.  If only there could be heard by the lost the groans and shrieks of the damned for one hour, how they would flee to Christ for mercy.  One preacher had said, "I had rather endure all torments, then see the devil with bodily eyes."  What a hell it must be to be shut up with the raging lion forever, and have him as the old red dragon forever hiss and spit in one's face!

3. Hell is a place of conscious suffering.  Time can never end hell's torment, and tears never quench it (Luke 3:23-25,28; II Peter 2:9 R.V.).  Thomas Watson, the Puritan divine, graphically describes the sorrows of hell thus: "If all the earth and sea were sand and every thousandth year a bird should come and take away one grain, it would be a long time before that heap would be removed: yet if after all that time the damned could come out of Hell, there would be hope; but the words forever and ever break the heart."

Those rejecting the Biblical revelation of hell try to show that "eternal" or "everlasting" do not mean eternal or everlasting.  My answer to this assertion can be brief.  Precisely the same word is used to define the duration of the life which believers Christ possess (John 3:15,16,36); the duration of salvation (Hebrews 5:9); the duration of heaven (II Corinthians 5:1); the duration of Christ's redemption (Hebrews 9:12); the duration of the Spirit's existence (Hebrews 9:14); the duration of the inheritance of the saints (Hebrews 9:15); the duration of divine glory (I Peter 5:10); the duration of Christ's kingdom (II Peter 1:11).  How foolish then to try the dodge the plain, obvious and natural meaning of the term used for the sinner's woe - eternal or everlasting.

"Everlasting" and "eternal" are used 14 times of the duration of the righteous and seven times of the retribution of the wicked (Matthew 18:8; 25:41,46; Mark 3:29; II Thessalonians 1:9; Hebrews 6:2; Jude 7).  "Forever and ever" occurs in 17 places concerning God and His people; three times regarding the devil and His servants (Revelation 14:11; 19:3; 20:10).

4. The Lake of Fire is a place of conscious suffering.  What doom awaits those who die out of Christ and also the devil and his angels (Revelation 2:11; 19:20; 20:10; Matthew 25:41,46)!  It would seem as if the conscious, unending torment of the lake of fire consists of two aspects.

  • The Punishment of Separation - "Depart from Me" (Matthew 7:23).  What doom!  Chrysostom says that the word "depart" is worse than fire.  Sin must be the greater evil when it eternally separates the sinner from the greatest good.  It was hard for Absalom not to see the king's face.  How tragic to be eternally banished from God's smile and presence!
  • The Punishment of Loss - "Ye cursed" (Matthew 25:41).  Sinners dying in their sin have to depart, not with God's blessing, but His curse, and to have as companions the occupants of eternal darkness.  The present anguish of the sinner is a kind of sport to the awful torments of the Lake of Fire.  How terrible is "the wrath of the Almighty" (Revelation 19:15)!  The divine stroke is heavy and intolerable.  Sinning together, body and soul must suffer together in unending misery (Revelation 9:6; 14:11).

Hell is a definite place, as well as a moral condition.

6. The conscious suffering of the lake of fire is unending.  Alreay we have dealt with the fact that the word aionios, meaning "eternal" or "of unending duration," is used of the blessedness of the saved and of the suffering of the lost.  Contrasted passages to study are these: Jude 7 with John 3:15; Matthew 18:8 with Romans 6:23; Matthew 25:41 with Hebrews 5:9Timothy 1:17 with Matthew 25:46; Revelation 10:6 with 20:10.

7. The only escape from everlasting torment is now.  Acceptance of the finished work of Christ for sinners alone guarantees deliverance from the terrible doom depicted by Christ as awaiting those who die lost.  Once in Him, all condemnaton is removed (Romans 8:1).  Hell fire can never singe the garment of divine righteousness.  Nothing quenches fire as quickly as salt and blood.  The salt tears of repentance, and the blood of Christ are efficient to quench the hell of sin now and the hell of torment hereafter.

If we truly believe that men and women who die in their sin are to be eternally banished from the presence of God forever, our solemn task here and now is to warn them to "flee from the wrath to come."  We dare not remain indifferent to their terrible doom (Ezekiel 3:17-21).


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Bible Statistics

The Whole Bible:

1)   Number of books - 66

2)   Chapters - 1,189

3)   Verses - 31,102

4)   Words - 783,137

5)   Letters - 3,566,480

6)   Promises - 1,260

7)   Commands - 6,468

8)   Predictions - over 8,000

9)   3,268 verses of fulfilled prophecy

10) 3,140 verses of unfulfilled prophecy

11) Questions - 3,294

12) Longest name - 18 letters (Isaiah 8:1)

13) Longest verse - Esther 8:9

14) Shortest verse - John 11:35

15) Middle books - Micah and Nahum

16) Middle verse - Psalm 118:8

17) Middle and shortest chapter - Psalm 117

18) Largest book - Psalms

19) Smallest book - 3 John (counting words)

20) Longest chapter - Psalm 119

21) Word God occurs, 3,358 times

22) Lord occurs 7,736 times

23) Authors - 40

24) Languages translated in - over 1,100

25) First chapter divisions made in 1227 A.D.

26) First complete English Bible - 1380 A.D.

The Old Testament

1)   Number of books - 39

2)   Chapters - 929

3)   Verses - 23,144

4)   Words - 602,585

5)   Letters - 2,728,100

6)   Middle book - Proverbs

7)   Middle chapter - Job 20

8)   Middle verses - 2 Chronicles 20:17,18

9)   Smallest book - Obadiah

10) Shortest verse - 1 Chronicles 1:25

11) Longest verse - Esther 8:9

12) Longest chapter - Psalm 119

13) Largest book - Psalms

The New Testament

1)   Number of books - 27

2)   Chapters - 260

3)   Verses - 7,957

4)   Words - 180,552

5)   Letters - 838,380

6)   Middle book - 2 Thessalonians

7)   Middle chapters - Romans 8,9

8)   Middle verse - Acts 27:17

9)   Smallest book - 3 John (counting words)

10) Shortest verse - John 11:35

11) Longest verse - Revelations 20:4

12) Longest chapter - Luke 1

13) Largest book - Luke

The Declaration

"For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:4,5 KJV

"To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear?  Behold, their ear is uncirumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the Word of the Lord is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it." - Jeremiah 6:10 KJV

"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." - John 15:18,19 KJV

"The world cannot hate you; but Me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil." - John 7:7 KJV

"He that hateth me hateth my Father also." - John 15:23 KJV

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." - Ephesians 6:12 KJV

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." - Matthew 24:24 KJV

"...Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." - St. Matthew 24:11,12 KJV

"Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." - 2 Corinthians 2:11 KJV

"For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." - 2 Corinthians 10:12 KJV

"And they will deceive everyone his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity." - Jeremiah 9:5 KJV

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." - 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 KJV

"...Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake." - Titus 1:11 KJV

"For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." - Ephesians 5:12 KJV

"He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him." - John 7:18 KJV

My Personal Promise To You

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth and because of this I will not walk in trickery, adulterating the Word of God, tampering with the gospel to make it less offensive, in order for men to commend me.  Instead, I will be faithful to the Gospel, manifesting the truth in order to commend myself to every man's conscience, with God watching...

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