Hell Is Real And Eternal
May 19, 2015
It is certainly tragic that there are teachers who claim that God’s Word does not warn us of a literal Hell. Indeed, how anyone could teach and believe such a thing reveals a deliberate denial of plain statements made by Jesus and the writers of Scripture.
In Mt. 23:33, Jesus addressed the Pharisees and teachers of the law, saying, “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to Hell?” Was Jesus bluffing? Was He threatening them, because of their wicked behavior and doctrine, of the danger of Hell, knowing that Hell did not actually exist? Of course not–!!!
What is the condemnation Jesus refers to when, in speaking of His just judgement (John 5:30), He says in v. 29, “…and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned”? What is the condemnation He refers to when, in warning of the Day of Judgement (Mt. 12:36), He says in verse 37, “…and by your words you will be condemned”? In both passages Jesus contrasts being condemned with being acquitted and given Life.
The apostle Paul speaks about condemnation as well. In 1 Cor. 11:27-34 he teaches that the Lord may decree earthly judgements, including sickness and death (v. 30), for believers so that they “will not be condemned with the world.” (v. 32) And we know from Jesus’ words in John 3:18,36 that the condemnation that the world is under is that of God’s wrath.
John the Baptist warned of this wrath as well when he “said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.'” (Luke 3:7,8) John was warning pretenders that by their wickedness they were keeping themselves positioned to receive God’s wrath.
“Okay,” many say who claim to be Christian. “This wrath is reserved for unbelievers, but not for anyone who has trusted in Jesus as Savior.” But they should read the above verses again. For it is sin which brings God’s wrath and decreed condemnation, and all will be condemned who have refused to love the Truth (2 Thes. 2:10) –the Truth which commands full repentance and full obedience to Christ, who is not only Savior, but King, Lord, and Boss over all. (Mt. 19:17 // Luke 9:23-25 & 14:33 // John 15:10 // 1 John 2:3-6) This is in line with what Heb. 10:26-31 warns of when it addresses those who have covenanted with Christ (v. 26,29), for it says that “If we deliberately keep on sinning…” (v. 26), we should expect the judgement of raging fire (v. 27) that is due the enemies of God. (Same verse) Verses 30 and 31 inform us that it is a horrifying thing to fall into the hands of God who repays His people for their rebellion.
“Okay, so the condemnation is annihilation,” many then argue. “Unbelievers and rebels are burned up. Their punishment is not eternal.” But again, the plain words of Scripture are being denied, for God’s Word states that Hell is most definitely a place where one’s torment is eternal.
2 Thes. 1:6-10 tells us that God, being just, will, on the Day He comes to be glorified (v. 10), pay back those who do not know God (v. 8 ) and those who do not obey the Gospel (same verse), including those who oppress others. (v. 6) Verse 9 tells us that “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord.” The only way to understand this rightly is to understand that being shut out from the presence of the Lord is a rejection from the Lord –as opposed to salvation– and that this punishment of eternal devastation is assigned to the enemies of God. This includes Christ’s servants if they turn rebellious, for as Jesus warns in Mt. 24:48-51, He will come and cut such rebels to pieces, assigning them a place of anguish along with those who are hypocrites.
Truly, Jesus has warned repeatedly about Hell, revealing that it is a “fiery furnace” (Mt. 13:42) of outer darkness (25:30) and physical torment (Luke 16:23-28) that causes terror and weeping. (Mt. 13:42,50 & 22:13 & 24:51 & 25:30 & etc.) It is a place, Jesus informs us, of “eternal punishment” (25:46) for all “who are cursed” (v. 41) –a place in “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Same verse)
Still, there are those who insist that this “eternal punishment” Jesus speaks of is annihilation. Really? Then why would Jesus tell us in Mt. 18:6 that if anyone causes one of God’s trusting ones to sin, “it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (See also Mark 9:42) How could such a drowning be better than to cause another to sin if the punishment for doing so would, after physical death, be annihilation by fire, not an eternity in Hell? And if levels of sinfulness increases one’s degree of punishment (Luke 12:47,48 // Rom. 2:5-11), how does annihilation consist of such degrees? It cannot. But the real Hell does have levels of punishment, and this is why it would truly be better to be drowned before one adds to his pile of crimes. This is also why Jesus has warned that it is better to maim oneself –to gouge out or cut off any part of our body that causes us to sin– than to be thrown into Hell (Mark 9:43-49) “where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'” (v. 48) Undeniably, Jesus is warning us that Hell deals out a far worse suffering than any which having a physical handicap on earth could cause.
If anyone still doubts the clear message Jesus is trying to get across, then His words in Luke 12:4,5 should be persuasive: “I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into Hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him.” There can be a lot of pain when a person is being killed. Yet being sent to Hell, Jesus says, is far worse. Why –if Hell is really annihilation? The point is, Hell is not annihilation, but eternal agony.
Anguish, punishment, judgement, and an eternity outside of God’s love is what sin reaps, for sin is rebellion, lawlessness, treason, and rejection of God. (John 15:10,14 // Ja. 2:10 // 1 John 3:4) God has provided a Way to be pardoned and to walk in His own divine power so that we can stay freed from sin (Rom. 6:18 // 2 Peter 1:3,4), but if people do not accept this, or if they trample Christ and insult His Spirit of grace by dishonoring their sanctification (Heb. 10:29), they mock God to their own destruction. (Gal. 6:7,8) Let’s not forget that those who continue to spurn God after sharing in the Holy Spirit will at one point be unable to come back to repentance (1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 6:4-6), for as Jesus has warned us, “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” (Mark 3:29)
God’s Word certainly does teach that there is a Hell. It warns of it repeatedly, and informs us that Hell is a place where the unrepentant will abide, without the King they rejected, forever.