by: Bruce Cook
After I had finished writing the articles that I felt led to do, I was waiting and wondering if I would receive any more topics for articles to write about. Suddenly one day the word Hell came clearly to my mind. Since deciding to do this article on Hell, I have noticed and felt an increased involvement in my life to try to discourage me from doing it, with an increase in personal events, distractions in prayer, as well as other things causing me to call upon the Lord often for help in putting Satan behind me. I thought about not doing it, but then I felt an even stronger urge that I had to.
Satan was telling me that people didn’t want to hear about Hell and be made to feel guilty or reminded of it or the terrible consequences of not accepting the Lord. But my feeling is that people need to be reminded of (Hell). I feel that people need to be reminded of the truth or learn for a first time what the Bible and the Lord tells us about Hell.
I obtained my information for this article from sermons and material from the internet as well as reading books and theBbible.
I recall an evangelist telling us how people didn’t want to hear about hell. That they would raise and wave their hands in the air, to signify that they didn’t want to hear about it. Some even walked out of the meeting.
In this day and age we hear a lot about reality this and reality that. We now have reality television programs. But let me tell you what real in your face reality is. Jesus Christ is true reality, Heaven is true reality and hell is reality. In the New Testament the word hell is used 162 times, and Jesus used the word hell 22 times.
A few years ago 70% of the ministers polled said that they didn’t believe in hell. One day I read this and even though I knew it, it really hit home with me. Do you realize that once a soul is created it never, never, never dies? It will go where you and I will go, to one of two places Heaven or Hell for all eternity. Period.
The whole topic of hell isn’t mentioned in church very often. Even in conservative churches it’s preferred to hear about God’s love and the possibilities of the abundant life that God wants to give us. And He does. But there are consequences to our not accepting Him as our Lord and Savior. God wants that none should perish but have everlasting life and to have it more abundantly.
A preacher Steve Shepherd wrote, “hell it would seem has fallen on rather lean times. It used to be that the vast majority of Christians believed that Hell was a real place where the wicked go when they died. It used to be that ministers of the gospel would preach on the horrors of hell to persuade sinners to repentance. But not anymore, North American main lines and so called Evangelical churches stopped preaching about hell years ago. The topic of hell was bad for the bottom line, attendance and income. As some one said, read the Bible and it will scare hell out of you. Or scare you enough to keep you out of hell.”
Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at the Denver Theological Seminary said that churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding.
But despite what the popular preachers and theologians of our seminaries say about hell, they forget what the greatest preacher who ever lived had to say. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about hell twice as much as He did about heaven. The only other subject He dealt with more was money.
I think that if the Lord thought it important enough to speak about, then I think we too are bound by the same task. The doctrine of hell was not a doctrine that was developed by the Apostles Paul, or Peter, or even John. The certainty of hell was clearly established by Jesus Christ.
Although the notion of hell seems fearfully out dated and has been called the forgotten doctrine of the Christian church, that’s not all together bad. I wouldn’t care to go to church where the Pastor made hell his favorite sermon topic. Hell is hard to talk about because you and I actually know some people who have probably gone there.
If you do not believe in hell, I doubt if anything I say will change your mind. My aim is to see what God has said about this topic. And I doubt if I could even scare anyone from Hell to Heaven. If I could I would, but that is the job of the Holy Spirit.
It’s easy to say “ Lets not talk about hell “, But Jesus felt free to raise the subject and so should we. In a recent poll, those who said that they believed in life after death were asked where they will go when they die, 76% said Heaven, 2% hell, 4% purgatory, 12% some where else, and 6% said they didn’t know or refused to answer. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus told us that broad is the way to destruction and narrow is the gate that leads to eternal life. Many are on the road to hell and don’t even know it. What road are you on? As long as you continue to follow Jesus your place in Heaven is assured.
There are only two possibilities regarding hell. Either its real or it isn’t. If it is real, man is not spiritually neutral; he is on his way to a horrific place and needs to be rescued. Death makes that final separation between the saved and the lost. Once in Heaven, always in Heaven. Once in Hell always in Hell. No one can pass from one to the other. The unsaved will descend to hell where they are kept under punishment until their bodies are raised for the final judgment, after which they will suffer everlasting conscious punishment separated from the presence of God.
Jesus tells us about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. He even uses names in describing the event. I’m quoting from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson, “There once was a rich man, expensively dressed in the latest fashions, wasting his days in conspicuous consumption. A poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, had been dumped on his doorstep. All he lived for was to get a meal from scraps off the rich man’s table. His best friends were the dogs who came and licked his sores.
Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, “Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I’m in agony in this fire.
“But Abraham said, Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It’s not like that here. Here he’s consoled and you’re tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.
The rich man said, “Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won’t end up here in this place of torment.”
Abraham answered, “They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them”. I know Father Abraham , he said, but they are not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways. Abraham replied. “if they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they’re not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.”
What do we learn about life after death and the situation of those in hell? We learn that the dead are still alive. The dead retain their personalities and essential characteristics, Lazarus is still Lazarus and the rich man is still the rich man. Even in hell the rich man could see, hear, feel, recognize, remember, speak, reflect, plead, suffer and think ahead. There was only one thing that he couldn’t do, he could not get out of hell.
Hell is a place of personal suffering. Three times Jesus mentions the torment, suffering and agony of the rich man. The damned cry out for help that does not come. And there is no joy in saying that hell is a place of eternal torment. There are some that may wonder “Is Hell eternal”?
Recently some respectful bible scholars have agreed in favor of annihilationism, the view that at some point after death, the unsaved are incinerated by God and simply cease to exist. This I am sure is preferable for those in the traditional view that hell is a place of eternal torment. Some think that the doctrine of eternal hell is immoral and makes God vindictive.
But again lets look to our only source of information in the word of God. Here are some of the biblical words and phrases associated with hell: Smoke, fire, burning, torment, bottomless pit, everlasting prison, wrath, weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, unquenchable fire, eternal fire, the second death, damnation, furnace of fire, blackness and darkness,( Have you ever been in a cave or mine and have them turn out the lights to show you how dark it is? You can’t see your hand against your nose, this is how dark it will be without the light of Christ.) There will also be the smell of burning sulfur. These images and symbols don’t sound like annihilation to me. Consider Math. 25: 46, Rev. 14: 9-11, and Rev. 20: 15. In summing it all up there seems no reason to abandon the traditional view that hell is a real place of eternal torment. Even if we don’t completely understand or grasp the concept of eternal hell, we must be true to what the bible actually teaches. There are some Christians who shy away from hell because they think it detracts from the message of the Gospel. This is unfortunate because we come to the bottom line and hell serves many purposes. General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, said, “If I had my way I would not give any of my workers three years training in college, but I would put each of them in hell for twenty-four hours, the best training for earnest preaching you could have. Have you ever wept for a family member or spouse or co-worker or friend who is rejecting God? The horrors of hell should motivate the Christian and non-Christian alike, it should compel them to embrace a personal faith in Christ, and praying for others,
There are those who might ask “Is Hell Necessary?” The answer is yes.
1. It promotes a foundation for moral excellence.
(a) Hell promotes right living because it teaches us that actions have consequences.
(b) In the ultimate analysis with out God there is no persuasive reason to be good. We can live as we please and all things are permissible.
(c) We can’t be good without God and we can’t have God without hell.
(d) If we want moral renewal, we must capture the concept that some things are right and others are wrong. we must relearn the ancient principle of reward and punishment.
(e) Truth is grounded in God, Morality is grounded in God, and justice is grounded in God. If there is no God, no Heaven, no Hell, there is no persuasive reason to be moral. In the end people go to hell because they deserve to go there.
(f) There will be no one in hell by mistake, if you end up in hell it’s because of the way you lived and the choices you made.
2. It provides for final justice. We need hell in order to right the wrongs of this life.
(a) What about the pornographers who ruin so many lives?
(b) What about drug pushers who corrupt our young people?
(c) What about spouses that walk out on their husbands or wives for others.
(d) What about politicians who abuse their power to get rich off the misery of others?
(e) What about the monstrous criminals who killed a pregnant mother and her two children and then tore the unborn baby from her body? How can any punishment of earth repay them for what they did? So many crimes go unpunished while the perpetrators are left free to hurt others. Hell must exist, if for no other reason than to balance the scales of justice.
3. It is the only place where sinners can go. Those who have rejected Christ would not be happy in Heaven. What would drug pushers do? How could greedy slum lords be at home in an atmosphere of unending peace and worship? Unforgiven sinners would be miserable in heaven. It would be like hell in paradise.
4. It helps the Saints on earth:
(a) The doctrine of hell reminds believers of the great salvation they have received.
(b) We remember that we too were on our way to hell, we must stop and marvel at Gods free grace.
(c) The awesome reality of hell ought to motivate us to win our friends and loved ones to Christ.
5. It protects the Saints in Heaven:
(a) Imagine saints and unregenerate sinners intermingled. The sinners would be angry and the saints frustrated.
(b) Where would the reward be for serving the Lord if the unredeemed were allowed to go to Heaven? Heaven would be like earth. Only worse because you expected so much more.
6. It demonstrates the greatness of God. In ways that we don’t fully see right now, the reality of Hell will make manifest God’s glory in the ages to come. Hell provides that God is both holy and just and that He truly does keep His word. The saints will one day praise the Lord that He judges sinners and that all His ways are right and true.
There is a real fire in hell. It will not consume you, it will torture you. Your body will be prepared by God in such a way that it will burn forever with out being consumed, with your nerves laid raw by searing flame, but never desensitized for all its raging fury, and the acrid smell of sulfurous flames searing your lungs, and choking your breath, you will cry out for the mercy of death, but it shall never, never, never come.
Lets take a look at who will be in hell?A great deal of people will end up in hell. They will come from every background, society, religion, and culture. Among their numbers will include those who the bible describes as: Those who do not know God. (2 Thesolonians 1:8.) Those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who produce lawlessness. ( Matthew 13:41 Cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murders, sorcerers, sexually immoral, idolaters and all liars. (Rev21:18) Sinners and hypocrites. (Isaiah 33:14) Homosexuals, adulterers, thieves, covetous people, drunkards, and extortionists. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
The bible teaches that life continues after the physical death of the body. God created man with a natural, temporal body and an eternal soul. The soul of man consists of who we really are. It is the center of our mind, will and emotion. (Daniel 12:2)
It is a place or state of final punishment of the wicked. It is an actual place as surely as heaven is. Many like to accept that Heaven is a place while rejecting hell as a place. As God has a place of happiness for the redeemed, so God has a place of punishment for the rebellious who serve the devil.
Hell is a place that the devil and demons inhabit. It is such an awful place to be, that Jesus said it would be better to cut off your hand or gouge out your eyes rather than to go there. It will be a terrible place separate from the presence of God, the rejected lamb, the holy angels and the redeemed. No light, life, peace, joy, righteousness, or salvation, but only darkness and torment of conscience will be there for those who rejected and despised the grace of God. This is the hell Jesus Christ died to save us from.
A,W. Tozer issues us an appropriate warning: No one can know the true grace of God, who has not known the fear of God .
C.S. Lewis said some will not be redeemed. There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and especially of our Lord’s own words. It has always been held by Christendom, and it has support of reason.
The characteristic of lost souls is “their rejection of everything that is not simply themselves. He has his last wish-to live in the self and to make the best of what he finds there. And what he finds there is hell.In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out all their past sins, and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But you see, He has done so, on Calvary.
When writing I always like to put in a story or two of my own personal experiences, or about other peoples experiences, although I’m glad to tell you I have no experiences of hell to tell you about. But I do know that Satan didn’t want me to write the truth about him or Hell, or even Heaven. He increased his activities against me in many ways.
I hesitate to tell you about this next event because people will say or think that I am a crazy old man, or that I hallucinate. But I’m going to tell it any way. You can think what you will, but it may help some one to know that when Satan comes calling that you can call upon the Lord, and He will help you drive him away. This event happened while I was gathering information and studying about hell.
One morning at three-thirty I awoke and immediately felt that the bedroom was entirely filled with a very heavy intense feeling of evil, as if the air was full of it. It is even hard for me to use words to explain it. I then felt as though someone or something was present in the room. I was nearly at a point of shaking as I started to intensely pray for Jesus to help in driving this evil from my bedroom. I don’t know how long I prayed the same prayer over and over. But after a while it suddenly left. It left me shaken for a couple of days. Even today it upsets me to think about it. I have never felt such evil in my life, except for a similar experience I had one night while working on my article about Heaven and the fallen Angels. But not nearly as bad as this event was. So you see why I had to do this article about hell. Satan is waging a spiritual war all around us. For me not to have done it would have given him a victory and me a spiritual defeat.
Sin is present, hell is real, and humans choose them both in lieu of a relational, redemptive, and restorative God. We are not free to re-invent, revise or change biblical truths and Christian doctrines for mere accommodation. We must not evaluate truth based on what is popular, preferred or politically correct. Forget conventional wisdom. We must evaluate truth based on God’s word.
Today there is nothing that can be done about those already in hell. But preventive steps can be taken to assure that other people don’t end up there. We cannot live as though it could never happen to us. We must be careful of the maintenance of our relationship with the Lord, and to also be spurred into action to try to reach our loved ones and neighbors before it’s too late. For those of us who are Christians, we dare not let up on our commitment to Christ. The danger is too great and the stakes are too high.
For those of you who were at church camp this year, you may remember Rev. Harold Hare telling us that he would never be the same again after studying for his sermons about Heaven. I found the same thing to be true when I studied about Heaven for my article a while back. It wasn’t that I didn’t think about Heaven before, but not to the extent and as often as when I did an extensive study about it. Not a day goes by that I don’t have a thought or several thoughts about Heaven, and how I long to go there when my life on earth is over.
And now after studying about hell I know that I will never be the same again, but in a different way. I will need to be more alert and guard against Satan and his temptations. I am more sensitive as to what and how easily it is to be tempted by Satan in words, thoughts and deeds. To realize how subtle the devil can be. And how dependent we are of the Lord in helping us to fight off Satan in each instance. As we increase our service and lives to the Lord, Satan wants us that much more. We need to be on guard at all times.
Rev. Hare told us about the rewards awaiting us in Heaven for our serving the Lord. But we also need to remember that there are consequences for serving Satan, and that consequence is the horrific sentence in being sent to hell and eternal punishment forever.
Remember, when you and I die we are going to either Heaven or Hell. Period.
Poet Catherine Dangell describes Hell like this:
Hell the prison house of despair. Here are some things that won’t be there. No flowers will bloom on the of banks of Hell, No beauties of nature we love so well, No comforts of home, music, and song. No friendship of joy will be found in that throng: No children to brighten the long, weary night, No love, nor peace, nor one ray of light! No blood-washed soul with face beaming bright, No loving smile in that region of night, No mercy, no pity, pardon, nor grace, No water, O God, what a terrible place! The pangs of the lost no human can tell, Not one moment’s ease-there is no rest in Hell”.
Mrs. Dangell’s poem is right on the money because James 1:6 tells us that God is the Author of every good and perfect gift and to be eternally separated from His presence is to be eternally separated from all things good and beautiful and comforting.
Return from Hell to the Avid Christian Articles Page.