After scores of emails criticizing the doctrine of hell, I chose to address it today. The most common attempt to logically exclude the doctrine of hell by its critics is “would a loving God send someone to hell?”. The problem with that is they are asking the wrong question. The Bible says that those who have not placed their trust in Christ are condemned already. Condemned to what? We’ll answer that later, but the question should be, would a God of justice and holiness permit someone to reject His son who suffered and died and offered salvation freely not exact some type of punishment?
However, at the end of this article, I am going to show you that hell is not the sinners final destination. So even if hell were to be the “common grave” or a burning sector for trash (and those terms were used to describe as close as man could understand what hell is like, not the other way around) that would not affect the sinners final judgment, which is NOT HELL. It’s worse!
THERE IS A PENALTY FOR REJECTING CHRIST
Jesus said in Luke 13:3-5 “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”, and “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” John 3:17. Jesus also states that He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” John 3:36.
Man is appointed to die in life at least once, and after that is judgment. Heb 9:27.
Those who believe that because God is love ignore that He is also a “consuming fire”. Heb 12:29. If one were to read the Old Testament starting from Isaiah through Malachi, every prophetic book was about judgment. In the New Testament Jesus preached about hell thirteen times. (Matthew 5:22-30, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 16:18, Matthew 11:23, Matthew 18:9, Mark 9:47, Matthew 23:15-33, Luke 16:23[and Jesus states also that He has the keys of hell and death in Rev 1:18]). In fact, Luke 16 is one of the most descriptive stories regarding hell in all the Bible. Jehovah’s Witnesses argue that this is a parable, but the story is not called a parable; any time Jesus was using hyperbole to make a point, He always identified the story as a parable, and the characters were given specific names like “a certain woman”. The story in Luke is an actual event, it describes Abraham, Lazarus and the Rich Man, as well as other real places.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. Luke 16:19-25.
Like the burning bush that was not consumed when it was on fire where God spoke to Moses in Exodus 3:1-15, likewise the rich man was consumed by the fire, and only wanted a drop of water because he was tormented by the flame. Not only was he tormented by the flame, but he had his full memory of his opportunity while he was yet alive to choose Christ.
Those who see Jesus as a loving God who would never torment someone for rejecting Him are denying the multitude of Biblical evidence to the contrary. God can not look upon sin (Hab 1:13) and because He is a holy and righteous God, He can not allow sin to go unpunished, that is His nature. He is much a God of judgment as He is a God of love.
PAUL PREACHED HELL
Many have argued that while Jesus preached hell, Paul did not. I disagree:
In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power”. 2 Thess 1:8-9.
Not only does Paul state that a flaming fire is how those who reject the gospel will be punished, but with “everlasting destruction”. At this point, cults like the Watchtower attempt to explain this as annihilation, that you are destroyed forever into oblivion. But that’s not everlasting destruction. God made man in His image, and with that means an eternal soul, and as we seen with the rich man, the soul that rejects Christ lives in constant eternal torment.
Paul also warns about the coming wrath of God numerous times (Rom 2:5,8, Rom 9:22, I Thess 1:10 [a good verse that proves the church will not go through the tribulation], 1 Thess 2:16 Rom 1:18 , and as we will see later, the wrath of God is not only carried out by judgments during the tribulation but is consummated by a sentence of eternal fire for those who reject Christ. Not only does God give men a chance in this time, but He even gives them an opportunity during the tribulation albeit under much worse conditions and not for those who heard the gospel in this time and rejected it, and yet men still refused to repent. Rev 9:20-21, Rev 16:9-11.
But praise God the believer is not appointed unto wrath! 1 Thess 5:9, Romans 5:9.
Jude also referred to eternal fire in Jude 9, and coming judgment on unbelievers. Jude 14-15.
THE LAKE OF FIRE IS THE ETERNAL DESTINY FOR THOSE WHO REJECT CHRIST
John writes in Revelation 20:15 “And death AND HELL were cast into the LAKE OF FIRE“. This one verse dispels all the non-sense that hell is merely the grave, because even hell itself is cast into the lake of fire.
Now we will focus on how long this punishment lasts as described from the book of Revelation.
“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever, and they have NO REST, DAY NOR NIGHT who worship the beast and his image and whosever receiveth the mark of his name” Rev 14:11. If you had a chance to receive Christ and rejected Him before the chaos starts in the tribulation, you will worship the beast. 2 Thess 2:12, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8.
The judgment of the whore. This is the judgement against an entire empire that ends up with its final empire as Rome (at a later time, I will give conclusive proof that the United States of America is an extension of the Roman Empire). This empire began with Nimrod in Genesis 11, and is described in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 2 and then by John in Rev 13:2, and is called “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” in Rev 17:5. It is an empire made up on individuals so it is not just a judgment on a bunch of buildings and land. Her sins come before God in Rev 16:19, and Rev 18:5, and we see her judgment described as eternal in Rev 19:3: ” And her smoke rose up for ever and ever”. Now for there to be smoke there has to be fire, and for there to be a smoke and fire that rises up forever and ever, there has to be something to burn. Those individuals that were part of the whore of Babylon suffer an eternal torment in fire.
Now pay attention here because this is one of the strongest verses in the Bible that demonstrate how long God’s judgment lasts.
In Revelation 19, after Christ’s second coming to earth, the beast and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire. Rev 19:20. Now in Revelation 20:1, Satan is bound for 1,000 years during the millennial reign of Christ. After the thousand years are finished, he is let loose for a season, but is then finally judged and notice this:
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Rev 20:10
Notice that is says when the devil is cast into the lake of fire, that he is cast where the beast and the false prophet ARE. Remember they had been cast there prior to the 1,000 year reign, so they were alive and conscious 1,000 years before the devil was finally cast there, and how long does this last? “and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”
I have often used the illustration that if I had a cure for AIDS or cancer, I would be cruel not to share it with others to heal them. How much more then should a believer not preach hell? Fundamentalists are accused of manipulating people with fear by preaching hell, but this is not manipulation, this is an honest warning that there is an eternal consequence for rejecting Christ, and I think that it is cruel for those who tell others NOT to preach it. Do the churches including the independent Baptists have their issues? Yes they sure do, but what could possibly be worse than spending an eternity in a burning lake of fire? We fundamentalists don’t preach it because we are trying to gain numbers, we preach it because we have a heart for the lost. Even when I go soul winning, I always tell a potential convert that even if they do not join a church, MAKE SURE YOU ARE SAVED. I can’t count the number of times I have wept every time I have reviewed my memory verses going over Revelation 14:11. As much as I vehemently disagree with my critics, I don’t want to see ANY of them burning in eternal torment.
Jesus paid a great price to obtain our salvation, and those who crucify the Son of God afresh by despising His cross, the blood that He shed and expect God to let them into heaven on THEIR TERMS are in for a rude awakening because the devil and misguided apostates have told them “God would never send anyone to hell” and that is a bald-faced lie. If you end up in the lake of fire forever, it is not because God wanted you to go there. You have a chance to avoid it, and a choice to receive Christs gift of eternal life by coming to God knowing and acknowledging you do not deserve it, for you were born with sin (Psalm 58:3, Romans 5:12) and can not save yourself. “But God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”. God is not willing that ANY should perish, but that all come to repentance. I Peter 3:9. God said in Ezekiel 18:32, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”
Salvation is a free gift, it is not of your own effort or works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast” Eph 2:8-9. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done” Titus 3:5. Since salvation is a free gift, why would anyone choose to reject Christ and attempt to explain away the consequences? “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Rom 10:13. Do not let anyone corrupt your mind from the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 11:3).
Will you call upon Him now? Will you come to God as the sinner you are and ask for His mercy and receive Him as your Saviour? I hope so, because not only does God love you, and sent Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh (1 Tim 3:16, Rom 9:5) to reconcile His creation back to Himself, but does not want this to be your fate:
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” Rev 20:15