Does the Bible say Hell is a real place?
"Hell" is a very difficult subject for many to think about or even talk about. The idea that there could actually be a place of eternal torment called "hell" is certainly terrifying. It's important that we get our understanding about hell from the place that it is first mentioned and spoken of, the Bible. There are many theories about hell and various religious speculations, but we should allow the Scriptures to be our guide regarding such a difficult topic and not the speculations, opinions and theories of man. So what does the Bible say about hell?
Matthew 10:28 "But fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Jesus
Matthew 13:40 "He will also say... depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Jesus
Mark 9:43 “It is better for you to enter life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched." Jesus
Jesus describes hell as, "outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew8:12 and "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:48 "a place of torment." Luke 16:28
2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9 "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power".
Revelation 20:13-15 “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
The duration of Hell.
It will last as long as Heaven lasts, since in the Bible the same Greek word for "everlasting," – aionion, is used for both Heaven and Hell. See Matt. 25:41, 2 Thess. 1:9, Rev. 20:10, John 5:24- “eternal life/everlasting life”.
It will last as long as God does since by His nature He must banish evil from His presence.
There is no exit from Hell.
There is a gulf fixed so no one can leave Luke 16:26. Judgment begins immediately after death. Hebrews 9:27 says, "It has been appointed to men to die once, but after that the judgment." And the judgment is everlasting. Rev.20:11-15
There will be consciousness/memory in hell.
Remember the story Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man went to hell and Lazarus went to Paradise, or Abraham's Bosom. The rich man could've gone to Abraham's Bosom but he rejected God in his life on earth and received the sum of his choices. As he was being tormented in hell he realized his need for mercy, but it was too late. He had memories of his life on earth. He so desperately wanted to warn his five brothers who were still alive on earth, but he couldn't. He deeply regretted his decision and wanted his loved ones saved, and he asked that Lazarus could be sent back to warn them of the terrible place called Hell. He was told that his family on earth had the Word of God, the Scriptures, to tell them to repent and follow God, and if they would not listen to the Word of God and what it says about Hell, then they wouldn't listen to anyone who rose from the dead. Luke 16:19-31
No doubt there are those who are dead now and in hell wishing that their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers would’ve “forced their religion” on them a little more.
Why doesn't God just annihilate the wicked and put them out of their misery?
God doesn't just snuff out His enemies; they've been created in the image of God as well.
For the same reason parents don't kill their children just because they don't meet their expectations, or because they're suffering or in misery.
Because God would hinder and deprive man of the consequences (whether good or bad) of free decisions. God would have to violate their free choice in order to bring them to heaven.
People want a free will to choose whatever they want while alive on earth, but if the consequences of their own choices turn out to be Hell then they want God to violate their free will. And God won't do that. He respects their free will choice, even if it's the wrong one.
Why doesn't God reform them instead of punish them?
God did try to reform them; this period is called "life". God gives people the opportunity to repent and be saved.
Hell is for the unrepentant, reprobate, and the unreformable.
Punishment says we respect justice, and elevates the nature of man since he/she ought to have known better. And the Scriptures clearly show that man has been given by God the ability to know right and wrong.
Hell is a place of "torment", not a place of "torture". Torture is inflicted by another from without against their will, torment is self-inflicted from within in accordance with their will.
How can God allow someone to go to Hell eternally for temporary sins, isn't that overkill?
Don't forget that the temporary sins committed are against an eternal God. Only eternal punishment can suffice for sins against an eternal God.
Remember David, after he had sinned with Bathsheba he recognized that his sin was ultimately against God the Almighty Judge. Psalm 51:4 says, “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight- that You may be just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.” His sin certainly affected others, but its greatest affect was that it would’ve separated him from God forever had he not repented and cried out for mercy and forgiveness.
Isaiah 59:1 “Behold the LORD’S hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He will not hear.”
Without an eternal separation there can be no eternal Heaven, evil is corruptive and must be quarantined.
Why do people go to Hell?
We are all born on a path that leads to Hell. Psalm 51:4, Romans 3:23, 5:12
People refuse to heed the warning signs along the way and turn from Hell. Luke 13:3, 2 Thessalonians. 2:10
People will to go to Hell through their actions even though they don't want to go there. For example, the alcoholic and the drug addict may not want to be that way but they will it by their decisions to continue in that lifestyle.
2 Thessalonians 2:10 clearly says that people "perish, because they do not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved."
2 Peter 3:9 says that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Ezekiel 33:11 “Say to them: ‘As I live’, says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!”
1 Timothy 2:4 says God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Who will be in Hell?
The devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41; Revelation 12:9 The Beast and the False Prophet. Rev. 19:20; 20:10 Judas (the son of perdition) the one who betrayed Christ. John 17:12 All those who continue to reject God's grace through His Son Jesus Christ. John 3:16, 18, 36; 8:24 Those not written in the Book of Life. Rev.20:15
Why did God create man if He knew some would go to Hell?
This question implies that nothing is better than something, and nothing cannot be compared to something because it's nothing.
This question also presupposes a moral standard, namely, it would be "morally better" to not have created people. This implies that one's moral standard exceeds God's standard, who knew all things before He ever created anything.
Romans 9: 20 “But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to Him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?”
Remember, the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9, that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And Romans 10:11, 13 “Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame…whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” Even Jesus said, “and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:37b
Perhaps God saw it better that some in Heaven and some in Hell is better than none in Heaven and none in Hell.
How can a God of justice, love, and compassion send people to Hell?
Because God would be unjust if He didn't allow man to have a free will in choosing where he wants to spend eternity. God would be unjust if there wasn't a Hell. Should God force man to live with Him against their will? No.
God doesn't send people to Hell. Man decides to send himself to Hell and God honors and confirms that decision.
There are only two options for a man's eternal habitation, Heaven and Hell, and if a man does not choose to go to Heaven then the only other option is Hell. God made it that easy of a selection.
Because God is loving He allows there to be consequences for our decisions. He wants us to grow and mature and so He warns us of the wrong paths and the results that come from continuing on them. If God didn't punish disobedience then He wouldn't be a loving God.
Why should a man think he can live like Hell on earth and have Heaven after he dies?
If a human judge turns a blind eye to a man he saw rape and kill your sister, you wouldn't call him just, fair and loving. Likewise, God who is Almighty Judge and sees everything will punish not only murderers, rapists, and thieves, but He will also punish liars, blasphemers, fornicators, adulterers and those who murder and lust in their hearts.
For Heaven to be perfect there must be no sin there. Therefore those who are there must be without sin, having their sins forgiven through the blood of Christ. If there is even one sinner in Heaven who is not cleansed of their sins then Heaven would cease to be perfect and God would not dwell there.
Why would God force you to spend forever with Him if you've chosen to reject Him you're whole life? That would be like forcing someone who hates you to marry you against their will.
For God to force someone to be with Him against their will would be like “spiritual rape”.
How can we be happy in Heaven knowing a loved one is in Hell?
The same way we can be happy eating while knowing others are starving, namely, if we have tried to feed the starving and they refused the food.
The same way God can be happy there, and yet He is more merciful and compassionate than we are.
And just as we have healing of bad memories here, God will wipe away all tears in Heaven.
Revelation 21:4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Man is responsible for his own decisions.
Psalm 5:10 says, "Pronounce them guilty, O God. Let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against You."
Jesus said in Matthew 12:37 "By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
And in Matthew 10:32, 33 He said, "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father in Heaven."
If someone refuses to eat and refuses to drink, and they eventually die because of it, is it God's fault they died? Is it someone else's fault who didn't force them to eat and drink? Or is it their own fault they died? The same goes for why people go to Hell. They refuse God's only provision, Jesus Christ, who Himself is the very food and drink of the human soul.
"I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger and he who believes in Me shall never thirst...This is the Bread that comes down from Heaven that one may eat of it and not die. I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" John 6:35, 50, 51.
Here are some more thoughts I had about the topic of "hell."
1. Hell is proof of the goodness and justice of God. If there is no hell and God just annihilates His enemies, then that would be an atheist's dream. That they could live like the devil, ruin people's lives and in the end just die and cease to exist. Human judges exercise more justice and goodness than that. If death is the final payment for sin, then you and Hitler get the exact same sentence. That's like a shoplifter and a murdering rapist getting the same sentence. The fact that God has created hell shows that He loves what is good and hates what is evil.
2. There must be an ultimate place for all evil. Like radioactive material is detrimental to life and therefore must be quarantined so it doesn't affect others, in the same way hell is a place where God ultimately quarantines all evil, sin and death for eternity. Could it be that God created hell so that heaven is not contaminated with the evil of history for eternity?
3. “Goodness” is seen as avoiding and opposing evil, rather than embracing it and approving of it. Those who are considered “good” are those who avoid evil. A good cop pursues rapists and murderers to have them condemned. An evil cop allows murder and rape. A good judge punishes evil, and an evil judge allows it. A good parent disciplines their child so that they do not do evil to themselves or others and punishes wrongdoing. A bad parent accepts and allows their children to commit evil without any consequences. And God is so good that He hates all evil and opposes it completely and ultimately in a place called hell. If God was not good then He would not care about evil and would even allow evil and sin in heaven. But because He is good He has banished sin and evil from His presence for eternity in hell. Those who choose evil over God naturally end up banished from God as well.
4. Many say that the “threat of hell” is unreasonable and mean. The threat of hell is unreasonable ONLY IF there was no offer of escape or heaven. Hell without an alternative is a terrible thought. If God created hell and gave mankind no option for heaven at all then it would seem very unreasonable and mean. However God has provided a wonderful alternative to hell and that is heaven forever with God. Therefore hell is not unreasonable; it is the person who rejects God and heaven that is unreasonable.
5. The fear of hell can be removed instantly. The threat and fear of hell can be totally eliminated if someone would just repent and trust the Savior. He instantly removes the fear of death and hell. If someone wants to continue to reject Jesus and fear hell then God is not to blame because He has provided a way out. When we belong to Jesus we don’t fear death or hell because Jesus is within us.
6. The topic of hell also provides an opportunity to talk about the wonderful hope of heaven for those who believe. What is the atheist going to tell their child when they say, "Mommy or Daddy, I don't want to die...I'm afraid of death!" Are they going to say, "That's just the facts of life, the way of nature...Don't focus on negative things..." That's a lame answer, they offer no hope. Jesus Christ offers hope in this life and also the hope of life in the next. Jesus offers a total and complete peace about escaping hell.
7. Hell is God's way of ensuring justice. Justice delayed is not justice denied. Criminals might get away with crime in this life, but not in the next. God will hold everyone accountable. Someone may murder, rape, steal and even molest children and escape the police or even flee to another country and never be brought to justice by human courts, but God is good and righteous and He will hold them accountable on His Judgment Day. The promise of judgment towards those who have escaped human justice can be great consolation to those who have been wronged. God sees everything and will bring all things to justice one day. However, just as we have received forgiveness for our sins, so can the criminal receive forgiveness if he comes to Christ in genuine repentance and faith. Jesus Christ died on the cross for the worst of crimes.
8. To deny hell is to deny reason. Hell is reasonable to those who understand goodness and justice. Just as it is reasonable to have prisons for criminals who want to continue to destroy lives, it is also reasonable to have an eternal prison for those who choose their sin over God. God gives us a lifetime to be pardoned through Christ and escape that eternal prison called hell. That’s our grace period.
9. As we train children to obey and do what is right for the sake of their future and not to ruin their present, so too God calls us to know Him and walk in righteousness in Jesus, not because he wants to ruin our lives but for the sake of our eternal future. The option to obey or not is yours, and the consequence, just as with children is the result of their choices, not mean parents. God is not a mean Parent wanting to ruin our lives through the fear of hell but He is a kind Parent who lovingly warns us about the consequences of our actions, even about death and hell. In His love He longs to steer each of us into the arms of Jesus for forgiveness, safety and eternal life. Because only Jesus died to take our “hell” upon Himself and pay the price for our sins He alone is the One God has chosen to give us forgiveness and eternal life.
10. Some people say, “How can a loving God send someone to hell?” or “I can’t believe in a God that would send someone to hell!” But if you really think about it, would you want a choice or not on where you spend eternity? Actually, how could a loving God force people to be with Him forever who did not want Him in their live on earth? That wouldn’t be very loving. Why would someone want to live their own life, reject God and Jesus and then after they die expect God to change their will and force them into heaven? When someone dies and goes to hell it is not because they wanted God and He denied them, it’s because God wanted them and they denied Him. God does not force heaven upon people, nor does He force hell upon people. God gives everyone a choice and they decide heaven or hell. The problem is that people want to reject God in this life and still think they deserve heaven. People want to live like the devil and still go to heaven. And yet God has made heaven to be a place of holiness, righteousness, and perfect goodness forever and we cannot take our sins up to heaven with us. If we don’t love God, righteousness, holiness, goodness and truth in this life then we will hate living in heaven for eternity.
With all of this said, it is important that our concept of hell comes from God and His Word, not human speculation, church tradition, media, movies, books or our own sensitivities and preferences. God is the One who created hell and He alone has the right to speak authoritatively on the subject. He has spoken in the Scriptures about hell and not to mention Jesus taught much about hell in the New Testament. My opinions or speculations or the opinions and speculations of others are just that, opinion and speculation. We can philosophize about the nature of hell, but God's Word, the Bible gives us enough information on hell to know that we would never want to go there ourselves, nor would we want our worst enemies to face the torments of hell for eternity. And this is why Christ came! He died on the cross for our sins and rose again to deliver us from hell, and anyone who will completely trust in Him for salvation will never ever experience the horror of a real and eternal hell.
If you are saved, this world is the only "hell" you will ever experience.
If you are lost, this fallen world is the only "heaven" you will ever experience.
If you don't know if you're saved or lost...then you're lost.
Get saved from hell!
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