Is Hell Real? Understanding Separation From God

It’s No Party

Someone described hell as a perpetual party with drinking, cursing, riotous living, and sexual freedom. Because a minister will condemn these actions does not assume they will be present in hell. As a matter of fact, a party is the farthest idea of the teaching of the Bible on hell. Others try to deny its existence, while still others attempt to redefine hell so as not to make it so bad. Regardless of the ideas of man, a real and literal hell exists.

The Qualities of Hell

The word translated “hell” is Anglo-Saxon from helan, to hide, and was used in the King James Version to translate both Hades and Gehenna as in Matthew 5:22. The word “hell” does not necessarily denote the ‘place of future torment’ – the word for which in the New Testament is quite different (Greek geenna).

The Greek word hades means literally a place devoid of light; a dark, obscure abode; and in Greek writing was applied to the dark and obscure regions.

It occurs eleven times in the New Testament. The idea which was conveyed by the words sheol and hades, was not properly a grave or sepulchre, but that dark, unknown state, including the grave, which constituted the dominions of the dead. Thus, the passage of Acts 2:27 and Psalm 16:10 is an expression referring to the deceased Messiah (Jesus Christ).

God would not leave Him among the dead; but would raise Him up (the resurrection). (Excerpts from JAMIESON, FAUSSET, BROWN — COMMENTARY VOLUME III — ACTS, page 12; BARNES’ NOTES, ACTS, pp. 42, 43)

10 facts the Bible teaches about Hell:

1. Hell is a place of unquenchable fire “…He (God) will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12).

2. Hell is a place of memory and remorse – In Luke 16:19-31 the unsaved rich experienced memory and remorse over his lost condition. These experiences will not be lessened throughout all eternity.

2. Hell is a place of thirst – Again in the Luke 16 account we read: “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'” (Luke 16:24).

4. Hell is a place of misery and pain – “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…” (Luke 16:23). “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night…” (Revelation 14:11). “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment…” (Matthew 25:46).

5. Hell is a place of frustration and anger – “…there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42). “…there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:51).

6. Hell is a place of separation – Often the unsaved man jokes about Hell in the following manner “Well, if I do go to Hell, I won’t be lonely, for all my friends will be there too.” But, the opposite is true! In at least four separate passages (Revelation 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8), Hell is called the “second death.” Death in the Bible does not mean cessation of existence, but refers to separation.

Thus, Hell is literally the second death, for the sinner will be forever separated from God, and, inasmuch as Hell is a place of darkness, this separation will doubtless isolate him from the companionship of unsaved friends as well.

7. Hell is a place of undiluted divine wrath – Man has already experienced some of God’s wrath on this earth, but not in its unlimited state. After the flood there has been the rainbow, for up to this point God has always heard and answered… “O Lord … in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

All living unsaved men should carefully ponder over the following frightful words: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb” (Revelation 14:10).

8. Hell is a place originally prepared for satan and his hosts – Note Jesus’ words: “Then shall He say ‘…Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels'” (Matthew 25:41). How tragic, therefore, when the sinner will refuse Heaven, that place prepared for all repenting men.

Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).The unrepentant will not enjoy Heaven, a place prepared for mankind, but will suffer in Hell, a place prepared for the Devil and his angels!

9. Hell is a place created for all eternity -The Greek word for everlasting is aionios, and is found 71 times in the New Testament. Sixty-four of these instances are in reference to God, such as His eternal power, spirit, kingdom, covenant, etc. The remaining seven instances are directly related to the duration of Hell.

In other words, Hell will continue as long as God continues, which is forever! “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

10. Hell is a place of conscious torment and suffering – It is also important to believe the words of Jesus Himself in Luke 16:19-31. Many people mistakenly think that this was a parable given by Jesus. However, this is not a parable; it is a clear statement of actual facts and of actual people who died.

Jesus tells us one went to Heaven and the other went to Hell and, “in Hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments….” This shows in Hell the rich man was suffering and was conscious while he was suffering.

Jesus went on to say that the rich man in Hell told about the terrible torment he was experiencing. This proves he was conscious in the misery and torment of Hell. It is very important to believe the words of Jesus Himself.

According to Ecclesiastes 3:11, people also are born with a consciousness that they have an immortal soul which will live on, in consciousness, through the endless ages of eternity. Though the body falls into the sleep of death, the soul goes immediately to Heaven (eternal life) or Hell (eternal death or separation from God).

The Citizens of Hell

  1. Satan – Rev. 20:10
  2. The Antichrist – 2 Thess. 2:8
  3. The False Prophet – Rev. 19:20
  4. Demons – 2 Pet. 2:4
  5. Judas Iscariot – Acts 1:25
  6. Base Sinners – Rev. 21:8
  7. All Unforgiven Sinners – Rev. 20:15

All of these “Citizens of Hell” continually reject the gospel. Even the man who has never heard the gospel preached has rejected various other attempts by God to point him to salvation. If the man would respond positively to these appeals, God would provide a gospel preacher to lead him to salvation.

None has a valid excuse for rejecting the gospel. God has offered eternal life to all who will receive it (Rom. 6:23). If we are unsure we possess eternal life, we should ask God to save us.

Understanding the doctrine of hell should motivate us to do everything to get eternal life and win lost people before it is everlastingly too late.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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