The subject of hell is probably the most avoided topic in the church, yet it is very important. The Bible makes it very clear, that there are only two places where people go to when they die; heaven or hell. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and [difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
There are only two gates and two paths that God has set before all of us, the narrow gate and the difficult path, the wide gate and the broad path. Those who walk on the broad path are those who live a life independent of God. They make all their own decisions and they do just as they please. They reject God because they do not want God to put any restrictions on their life. Sin is no problem to them and they do things because “it feels good” and not because it is morally right. In fact the main reason why people reject God is because they want to do their own thing and they do not want God to interfere with their lives. Jesus said in John 3:19, that “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” They chose the ‘’pleasures of sin for a season.’’ In Proverbs 14:12 it says, “There is a way that seems right unto man but the end thereof is death.” Most people walk on this broad path which leads to death and hell.
The other path is a narrow path or a restricted path. In order to walk on this path, we must make Jesus Lord of our lives. We will no longer be free to do what we want to do, we have to be prepared to surrender our lives completely to Jesus and do God’s will. However, this is the road that leads to eternal life. Jesus said in Luke 9:23-25, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
However, although there is a price to pay, in order to follow Jesus, the rewards are more wonderful than anything this world can offer. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I have come to give you life and life in abundance.” The biggest issue in life is not our existence on earth. We are here for only a short period of time. The Bible says in James 4:14, “… For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” We are on earth for a very short period of time, but we will be in eternity forever and ever, millions and millions of years. Furthermore, what we do during our short stay on earth will affect us forever.
In this study, we will briefly describe the two destinations that await us in eternity. We will first look at what the Bible says about hell. Hell is a real place just as earth is real and heaven is real. In fact there are 46 verses where Jesus warns us about hell and 18 of these speak about the fire of hell. If this topic was important to Jesus, it should also be important to us. There are a number of reasons why we should have a clear understanding of hell.
Firstly, it should cause us to appreciate our salvation and what Jesus did on the cross for us to save us from this terrible place. Secondly, it should cause us to live in the fear of the Lord. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” If we knew how serious and horrendous hell is, then we will be careful how we live and not do anything that will jeopardize our gift of eternal life. Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:12: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” Another translation says, “Hold tightly on to eternal life.” There is a place to know God as Abba Father, but first we must respect Him by not living in sin. Proverbs 16:6: “By the fear of the Lord, one departs from evil.”
Thirdly, it should give us more of a passion for the lost. We should use every opportunity to warn people about this terrible place. We read in 2 Corinthians 5:11: “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” This is not only talking about the Judgment Seat of Christ, but also judgment in hell. If we know how serious hell is, we will be more persuasive with men. Ezekiel 33:8 says if we do not warn the sinner, his blood will be required from our hands. Paul said in Acts 20:26: “I am innocent today of the blood of all men.”
What does the Bible say about hell?
Everything that is of God is removed from hell. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Everything that we enjoy on earth, that is good, is absent in hell.
1: Hell is like living in a confined prison cell: Isaiah 24:22 says, “They shall be gathered together as prisoners are gathered in a pit and be shut up in a prison; after many days they shall be punished.” Proverbs 7:27 speaks about “descending down into the chambers of death.” Those who go to hell cannot move around, they are shackled in a lonely prison forever and ever having no relationships and not being able to communicate with anyone else. People in hell are kept in total isolation and they will not be able to talk to anyone there. There will not be the pleasure of conversation with anybody. To be in hell, is to be in continual solitary confinement.
2: Hell is a place of excessive heat: Hell is a place of a literal fire. Psalm 11:6: “Upon the wicked He will rain coals, with fire and brimstone and a burning wind will be the portion of their cup.” Psalm 140:10: “Let burning coals fall upon them, let them be cast into the fire.” Matthew 13:49-50: “The angels will … cast them into a furnace of fire.” Revelations 9:2 speaks about the severity of this fire. We read about the bottomless pit being opened and smoke arose out of it “like a smoke of a great furnace.” This was not a normal fire, but of a great furnace where the fire is extremely hot. Only a real fire can produce real smoke that can darken the sun and the air! People are in this pit, they were literally burning and their flesh melts off their body and this process never ends! Psalm 49:14: “Their beauty shall consume away in their dwelling…” (KJV) The screams are so aloud from the people suffering in hell, that it is unbearable.
3: Hell is a place of total darkness: There is pitch black darkness in hell. Light and life are synonymous, and there is no life and no light in hell, just pitch black darkness. Jude 1:13: “For whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” The darkness in hell is not only the absence of light, but a darkness that can be felt. In Matthew 8:12, we read, “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
4: Hell is a place of unimaginable torment and pain: People are tortured without any reprieve or mercy. Psalm 103:17: “The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” There is no mercy in hell because people do not fear Him there. In hell there are demonic creatures, huge, ugly and evil and have an extreme hatred for God which will be directed to those who go to hell. The pain in hell is a literal pain, not allegorical! People will have bodies in hell. Matthew 10:28: “Fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell.”
There are snakes all over hell and maggots. Jesus said in Mark 9:44: “Where the fire is not quenched and their worm dies not.” People in hell are continually eaten by maggots. Isaiah 14:11: “The maggot is spread under you, and worms cover you.” In the natural, maggots will die when the flesh is consumed. In hell the flesh is never consumed so the maggots will eat the flesh forever and ever. The screams of the pain of those who suffer in hell are deafening and unbearable. Matthew 13:42 says that will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth” in hell.
5: Hell is a place of extreme hunger and thirst: Those who go to hell will be so hungry and they will never eat again to satisfy their hunger. It is like being on a long fast that will never end. Those in hell are so thirsty with no water to quench the thirst. The rich man in Luke chapter 16 would do anything for a drop of water. He is still waiting for that drop 2000 years later. In Zechariah 9:11 is speaks about the waterless pit. There is no water in hell. People will have extreme thirst but will never be able to quench that thirst.
6: Hell is a place of extreme tiredness with no opportunity to rest or sleep: People need to sleep in hell, just as they need sleep on earth. People in hell get so tired and just want to rest, but there is not rest. The demons will not allow you to fall asleep. Revelations 14:11 says that “they have no rest, day or night.” Isaiah 57:14 says that the “wicked are like the troubled sea and have no rest.” Sleep and rest is a blessing from God because the Bible says that God gives to His beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2) In hell, those in hell are not His beloved. Adding to the extreme tiredness in hell is the experience of extreme weakness.
7: In hell there is no clean air to breathe: The smells of hell are so putrid and disgusting, worse than any open sewer and rotten flesh on earth. Hell is a place that burns with brimstone, which is another name for sulfur. Demon spirits are known as foul spirits, they stink! Worse than that, in hell, there is not enough air to breathe. People who go to hell have to fight and gasp for every tiny bit of air. Isaiah 42:5 says that the Lord gives breath to those who are upon the earth. In hell, people are not upon the earth, they are deep beneath the earth.
8: Hell is a place of total hopelessness: The worst part of those who go to hell is that they will realize that they will be there forever and ever. Hell is eternal, there is no way out and the suffering and the torment will never ever stop. In hell there is no hope, no reprieve but total despair. Hell is just a useless wasting away with no destiny or purpose. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “There is no work, or device, or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” In hell it is absolutely hopeless; people cannot even die to get out of it. This is the worst part of hell! We read in Isaiah 38:18: “Those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.”
9. Hell is the absence of all the attributes of God: In Matthew 25:41, says that hell is prepared for the devil and his angels. God never intended man to go there! James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Everything wonderful on earth is provided by God the Father. Therefore, hell is a place where God removes everything good that we experience on earth, because He removes Himself and all His attributes from hell. Instead of love, there is pure hatred, instead of order, there is total chaos. Instead of peace, there is extreme torment. If anyone says that they do not need God, then God has a perfect place for them to go, that place is hell, because hell is the absence of God.
10: There are different levels of hell: There are different levels and degrees of punishment in hell. Matthew 23:14: Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You shall receive the greater condemnation.” Implying that is a lesser condemnation. Matthew 10:15: “It will be tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for this city.” This implies that there is a less tolerable! Hebrews 10:29: “How much worse punishment, he will be thought worthy who has trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant.” This implies that there is a worse punishment. But we need to understand, that there is no comfortable level in hell. It is all horrendous beyond we can all imagine. That is why Jesus warned about hell.
How do people escape from going to hell?
First of all, we cannot escape hell because we are good:
Heaven and God are perfect. In James 2:10 it says if we break law in one part, we are guilty of breaking all the law. We read in Romans 3:12, “There is none who does good, no, not one.” In Romans 3:23 it says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Even if we have committed even one sin, we will go to hell. We read in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin are death, (hell), but the gift of God through Jesus Christ is eternal life.” Some may argue, if I am good, then God must let me into heaven. To counteract this argument, consider the following example: Imagine if you found a good home, knocked on the door and said, “I am moving in with you.” We can imagine what the owners of the house might say! “You cannot do so, because we do not know who you are.” Same with God, we cannot expect to go to heaven if we do not have a relationship with Him! God is our Creator but He is not our Father until we invite Jesus to come into our hearts. Therefore we have no right to live in His house.
God cannot overlook sin, because He is righteous judge. A righteous judge will not let a criminal go free. God has to punish the sin, but He took out that punishment on Jesus. Therefore, if we do not want Jesus to take our punishment and deny Him, then we must take the punishment which is hell, it is our choice. Only Jesus can take away our sin.
God is also a consuming fire. If we put our hands into a fire it would burn us, not because the fire is mean, but that is what a fire does. God’s nature is to consume sin! A Holy God and sin are not compatible. If we showed up in God’s presence we would be consumed because that is His very nature. Therefore, in order to appear in God’s presence we will have to be sinless. Jesus lived perfect life and never sinned once. Jesus exchanged His righteousness for our sin so that we can appear before God. Therefore we must trust in what Jesus did. If some say that they do not believe there is a hell, Revelations 21:8 says that, “all unbelievers have their part in the lake of fire.” If people do not believe, then God has a perfect place for them, called hell. People send themselves to hell! The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9, that God “is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Secondly, Jesus is the only way to escape the punishment of hell:
We read in Acts 4:12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” If people say that there are many roads to heaven. Consider someone inviting us to dinner and tells us that we can take any road to get there! In the same way, God gives us clear directions to His house. Jesus is the way! All are on road to hell by default but to get off that road we must look to the cross and believe in the Lord Jesus.
God’s clear directions to heaven: Jesus said in John 3:36: “He that has the Son has everlasting life...” We have to know the Son, Jesus as our Personal Lord and Saviour. Secondly, we must repent of our sins. We read in Luke 13:3: “If you do not repent you shall all likewise perish.” We have to humble enough to admit that we have sinned. Thirdly, we must acknowledge and confess publiclly, that Jesus is our Lord and believe that He has risen from the dead and is the Son of God. Romans 10:9-10 says that we must believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is our Lord. Finally, we read in Revelations 20:15: “If anyone was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” God has a book, and the question we need to ask, “is my name in that Book?” We have to make sure that our names are in His book of life while we are alive, one second after we die will be too late. Today is the day of salvation. “Is your name in the book? Amen