Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel."
Mark 1:15

  
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What Is The Truth About Hell?  

 

 

People joke about it. Cartoons depict it inaccurately. We use the word flippantly. When we're angry with someone, we tell them to go there. People say that they are going there, and they will be partying with their friends - sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Many people don't even believe such a place exists. This is all false. 

Why do we have such misconceptions about hell? It is because we are not informed by what Scripture teaches. The Bible depicts hell in a sobering tone as a very real place. It is a dreadful place that we must avoid at all costs. Jesus said, "And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'"
Mark 9:47-48

Many people don't believe in the reality of hell because they don't read what the Bible actually says about it. Most of what we know about hell comes straight from the lips of Jesus. Jesus spoke of hell more than anyone else in the Scriptures. Let's take a thorough look at the doctrine of hell.

What Is A Good Biblical Definition Of Hell? 

The place of eternal conscious punishment for those who have broken God's law. 

The Bible describes Hell as a place of...

outer darkness (Matthew 25:30)
weeping (Matthew 8:12)
wailing (Matthew 13:42)
gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50)
flames (Luke 16:24)
everlasting fire (Matthew 25:46)
a furnace of fire (Matthew 13:42)
separation from the righteous (Matthew 25:46)
eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
torment (Luke 16:23)
everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)
the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Revelation 19:20)

Let's define some more terms -

Sheol - A Hebrew word. It is the place of the dead, not necessarily the grave, but the place that the dead go to.

Hades - A Greek word. It is the place of the dead, the location of the person between death and resurrection.

Gehenna - A Greek word. It was the place where dead bodies were dumped and burned. Jesus used the word to designate the place of eternal torment. It was here that some pagan kings practiced human sacrifice by fire.

The Lake of Fire - The final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, both angelic and human.


Why Do People Go To Hell?

Sin. Some people say individuals go to hell because they haven't "accepted" Jesus. That's not true. They go to hell because of their sin. That would be like saying that a person got the death penalty because they didn't receive a pardon. No, they got the death penalty because they committed a capital offense.

Where Is Hell?

Scripture does not tell us the geographical location of hell. Hell may have a physical location in this universe, or it may be in an entirely different dimension.

Are People In Hell Forever? 

Yes. Matt. 25:46 says "And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." In this verse, there is a perfect parallel, the same word "eternal" is used to describe the punishment of the wicked as well as the eternal life of the believer. Just as eternal life for the believer is endless, the punishment for those without forgiveness of sins is endless. The believer will be in heaven just as long as the unbeliever will be in hell.

Some other verses to consider -
 

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Jude 1:7

And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.
Rev 14:11

And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Rev 20:10

When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
2 Thess 1:7-9

Are The Dead Conscious After Death?

Yes. In that place (hell) there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. Luke 13:28

Are There Different Degrees Of Punishment?

Yes. What does Jesus say about this...

And in his teaching He (Jesus) said, "Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes and like greetings in the marketplaces and have the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation."
Mark 12:38-40 

For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.   But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you."
Matt 11:23-24

"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows."
Luke 12:47-48 

Are the descriptions of hell symbolic or literal?

This is a debated question. I don't know the answer to this, but I tend to agree with what theologian RC Sproul says regarding this issue - "I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols."      

Who goes to hell?

Here is what God has said:

Then I (John) saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev 20:11-15

Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people - none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.
1 Cor 6:9-10

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Gal 5:19-21

Who deserves hell?

If hell is reserved for those who have broken God's law, the answer is everyone. We all deserve hell.

Does God throw anyone into hell?

Do you agree with this popular statement...?  God does not send anyone to hell. If a person chooses to reject Christ, that person has chosen hell for himself or herself. God did not send them there. I've always wondered how one harmonizes that type of sentiment with Bible verses such as these -

And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Rev 20:15

And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell,  'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'
Mark 9:47-48

How can we have joy in heaven knowing some of our friends and family are in hell?

This is a difficult question because the Bible says certain things about what it will be like for us being in the presence of God. Psalm 16:11 says, "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." Revelation 21:4 tells us, "He [God] shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." So what about those friends and family members who we love that end up paying the price for their rebellion against a holy, just and infinitely worthy God? Does God wipe away our memory of them? How can we be happy knowing they are suffering for eternity because of their sins? It's my belief that we will be so fully satisfied with seeing God for who He is and we will be so enamored with Him that we won't focus on our loss, but rather on our gain. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2 In addition, how about this challenging thought...I suspect that we will praise Him for His justice, even when it is demonstrated on those whom we love.

What does the Bible say about Purgatory?

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is "A place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions." Our natural inclination is to feel as though we need to contribute something to our salvation.  That is one reason why the man-made doctrine of purgatory was created. If we were able to pay to satisfaction somehow, someway for our transgressions against God we would then be able to say that we earned even a small portion of our salvation. That is one reason why hell is eternal, we can never pay back our debt in completion to an infinite God. We would need to pay forever, which is what hell is. In addition, to say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus' suffering was insufficient. Purgatory denies the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus said, "It is finished." This declaration eliminates the idea of us having to suffer in any way for our sins. Either we pay the price ourselves in an eternal hell, or it was paid for, in total, on the cross. The payment that Christ made emphatically stamps a "Paid In Full" upon the record of all those who would come to know Jesus as savior. The idea of anyone paying even a small portion towards their redemption is contrary to everything the Bible says about God saving a people for His glory. To answer the question, what does the Bible say about Purgatory?...Nothing.

How Does Someone Avoid Going To Hell?

Repent (turn away from sin) and believe the gospel (the good news that Jesus came to save sinners).
 

Related Page:

"A Loving God Wouldn't Send People To Hell"

 


   


Questions

The Big Question

Does God Exist?

What Is The Bible?

Is The Bible True?

Who Is Jesus?

Is Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible?

Is Jesus God?

Did Jesus Fulfill Any Prophecies?

Did God Create You?

What About Reincarnation?

Are You Going To Heaven?

What Is The Truth About Hell?

What are the Essentials of the Faith?

Who Will You Believe?

Want To Find A Good Church?

Looking For A Church In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania?

Which Bible Translation Is Right For Me?

What is the TULIP, and is it Biblical?

What are the Five Solas, and are they Biblical?

 

Objections

"All Religions Lead To God"

"Never Talk About Religion Or Politics"

"Judge Not..."

"The Bible Is Full Of Contradictions"

"A Powerful God Wouldn't Allow So Much Evil..."

"The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites"

"What About Those Who Never Hear About Jesus?"

"A God of Love vs. A God of Wrath"

"A Loving God Wouldn't Send People To Hell"

"You're Only A Christian Because You..."

"As Long As You're Sincere In What You Believe"

"How Do You Know Which Religion Is Right?"

"God Would Never Forgive Someone Like Me"

"I Can't Believe In Miracles"

"Unanswered Prayer Shows God Doesn't Exist"

"What's With All The Different Denominations?"

"Jesus Was Just a Copycat of Pagan Myths"

"What About The Crusades?"

"What About Slavery In The Bible?"

"What About Evolution?"

"What About Homosexuality?"

"Jesus Didn't Say Anything About Homosexuality"

"What About Abortion?"

 

Other Stuff

   Other Beliefs

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What I Believe

Theological Terms and Definitions

Belief Comparison Chart

An Eschatological Overview (End Times)

Good Quotes

Paul Washer Quotes

20 Logical Fallacies

17 Questions Every Christian Should Think About

My Prayer - I Have A Problem...

More Than A Holiday

Honest Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses

Honest Questions For Mormons

Questions For Skeptics

10 Reasons To Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa

A View From The Life Boat

A Collection of Helpful Bible Passages

A Story About A Boy Named Mikey

Thoughts On The Doctrine Of Definite Atonement

Questions To Ask A Child Before Their Baptism

A Critique Of An Origin-Of-Life Article

No Hope In The Pope

Terrorism - What You Can Do About It

The Impact Of A Blind Elderly Woman

Evidence For The Resurrection - W.O.M.E.N.

 

Apologetics / Evangelism

What Is Apologetics?

Why Should We Do Apologetics?

What Is Presuppositional Apologetics? 

What Do You KNOW? 

What Is Evangelism? 

Why Should We Evangelize? 

Are Christian Doing A Good Job Of Evangelizing? 

7 Reasons People Don't Share Their Faith

The Question Of Evangelism - Words Or Works? 

Is The World In Which We Live In Today Tolerant? 

Preaching What We Practice and Talking The Walk

Man vs. God Centered Evangelism

 

Around the Web

44 Reasons Why Evolution is Just a Fairy Tale

The Scientific Case Against Evolution

Evolution: The Anti-Science

A Letter From An Atheist

Are You A Good Person?

Is This Your Life?

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?

What's Wrong With The Sinner's Prayer?

An Important Aspect of Baptism

Must We Believe Jesus Is God?

Turn or Burn

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10 Principles For New Christians

10 Pitfalls Of The Foolish Apologist

Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

The Secret About How Some Christians Witness

Preaching God's Love In Acts?

The Gospel In Every Book Of The Bible

7 Key Differences Bewteen Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

A Different Perspective On Halloween

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

The Question After A Tragedy - WHY?

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoughts About Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner

A Pastor's Response To The Marriage Debate

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

Should a Woman Be a Pastor or Elder?

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands?

The Shack - Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Universalism - A Problem for Everyone

5 Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 More Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 Truths We're Keeping From Our Youth Groups

Charlottesville, Racism and God's Word

8 Signs Your Christianity is Too Comfortable

Maybe Elvis Was Just a Carnal Christian?

 

Audio / Video

    Original Sermon Jams

     Born Again - Paul Washer

     Does Jesus Know You? - Paul Washer

     We Got An A! - Paul Washer

     A Boy On The Street - R.C. Sproul

     Fearless - R.C. Sproul

     Hypocrites - R.C. Sproul

     Smiling Faces - R.C. Sproul

     Authorized Personnel Only - Tony Evans

     Drive-thru - Tony Evans

     One Flesh - Tony Evans

     Sex - Tony Evans

     The Satisfier - Tony Evans

     Who to Serve? - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     The Voice of Truth - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Transformed - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Where is the Love? - Pastor Ben Maxie

     He Claimed to be God - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Love is a Behavior - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Examine It for Yourself - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Perfect Love - Pastor Ben Maxie

     We Need Preachers - Mike Bongo

     The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism - Mike Bongo 

     I'm Ready - Mike Bongo

     Our Day in Court - Mike Bongo

     Examine Yourself - Mike Bongo

     Exclusivity - Mike Bongo

     Our World - Mike Bongo

     The Great Exchange - Mike Bongo 

     True God - Mike Bongo

    The One Minute Apologist

     Intolerance - Greg Koukl

     Legislating Morality - Frank Turek

     Intelligent Design and Creation - Bill Dembski

     Tolerance is Unbiblical - Josh McDowell

     Homosexual Forgiveness - Michael Brown

     What Must I Do To Be Saved? - Hank Hannegraaff

     Is Jesus A Copycat Savior? - J. Warner Wallace

     The Resurrection - Gary Habernas

     Contradictions In The Bible - Mike Licona

     Is It About Winning Arguments? - Mary Jo Sharp

     Does Christianity Oppress Women? - Dianna Newman

     Is Evil An Argument For God? - Brett Kunkle

   WWUTT (When We Understand The Text)

     Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?

     Thou Shalt Not Judge?

     God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

     Do We Have To Prove That God Exists?

     Preach The Gospel, If Necessary Use Words?

     You Don't Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian?

     I Stand At The Door And Knock?

     God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?

     Spare The Rod, Spoil the Child?

     The Bible Says Slavery is Okay?

     Are Catholics Saved?

     God Foreknew Who Would Be Saved?

     Does The Bible Say Homosexuality is A Sin?

     Alter Calls And The Sinner's Prayer?

     Worse Than An Unbeliever?

    Kids Section

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     David Platt On Sharing the Gospel With Children

     For The Children: Are You Saved? - Paul Washer

     2 Amazing 11 Year Old Boys

   Other Audio / Video

     Rescue The Perishing

     Emeal Zwayne's Dialogue With A Homosexual

     The Big Questions of Life - Voddie Baucham

   Explore God

     Is There A God?

     Can We Know God Personally?

     Why Does God Allow Pain And Suffering?

     Is Jesus Really God?

     Are Christians Judgmental?

   The Bible Project

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 1 of 2 

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 2 of 2 

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Leviticus Overview

     The Book of Numbers Overview

     The Book of Deuteronomy Overview

     The Book of Joshua Overview

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     The Book of Ruth Overview

     The Book of 1 Samuel Overview

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     The Books of 1 and 2 Kings Overview

     The Book of Job Overview

     The Book of Psalms Overview

     The Book of Proverbs Overview

     The Book of Song of Songs Overview

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Hosea Overview

     The Book of Joel Overview

     The Book of Amos Overview

     The Book of Obadiah Overview

     The Book of Jonah Overview

     The Book of Micah Overview

     The Book of Nahum Overview

     The Book of Habakkuk Overview

     The Book of Zephaniah Overview 

Street Conversations

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Street Conversations - George & Paul

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Street Conversations - Raheem part 2

Street Conversations - My Mom

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Street Conversations - Hippy part 2

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Street Conversations - Jacob

Street Conversations - Nolan

Street Conversations - Fred and Frank

Street Conversations - Phillip

 

Me      

My Baptism

Parable Of The Talents  

Survey Says  

A Hard Lesson  

Talking About Jesus  

The Perfect Gift  

A Faith Worth Thinking About  

Stand Strong  

Peace At Christmas  

Resolutions From Revelation  

Takin' The Gospel To The Streets  

Responding Rightly To The Gospel Of Grace  

A Defense That Honors God And His Word  

Encouragement In Corinth  

The Dash

Surrendering To Win

The Gospel

The Laborers Are Few; Therefore...

Love Has No Labels - A Response

Faith That Works

Atheists: They Don't Exist

YOU Must Be NEW

Making a Difference - Outreach and Evangelism  

Luke - A Careful Investigation to be Sure  

Be Kind! Yeah, But Why?

A Close Encounter of the Divine Kind

The Formula For Forgiveness

The Parable of the Soils 

 

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