Hell and its Biblical Description!
You Don’t Want to Go to Hell!
Most people in our day seem to have no conception of the horror of hell. In contrast to New England of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, when hell was very much on the minds of many men and women, today the vast majority of people have a very superficial view of their coming doom of Gehenna Hell. In fact, we’ve often heard people joke about this approaching destiny of most of mankind. They speak about the weather by saying, “It is hotter than hell!” I have pointed out that they must have no conception of how hot hell really must be!
Amazingly, researchers have discovered that most people think they will go to heaven and very few assume they will go to Hell. And this pertains to the vast majority of people in America who are in no way prepared to meet God. Think of the billions of people on earth who either don’t believe in God or reject the God of the Bible!
If we really come to see how God’s Word describes hell, we won’t want to speak of this place with levity or lightness! It would do us well to consider long and hard about what hell will be like. This should serve to awaken us to the terrors of this coming place of torment!
We should be aware that the place called “hades” (from the Greek term hades) is where the unsaved go at death before the resurrection of the body and Christ’s second coming. After the great “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7), these same unsaved people will be cast into the lake of fire, otherwise known as Gehenna or “hell.” Whereas hades is temporary, hell is eternal. Both are unspeakable horrible to contemplate!
Let’s notice a few descriptions of either hades or hell—and we offer these so that we will look upon them with utter revulsion and terror! Hell is not a place that you or I would want to go—if we are aware of the horrors of hell! In Luke 16, the Lord Jesus tells of a rich man who died and was taken to a place of “torment” (v. 23) and “agony” (vv. 24, 25). It was a place cut off from the opposite place of comfort (v. 25) for there is a “chasm fixed” between these two locations (v. 26). This is not where either of us would want to be! Although this must not have been “hell” or the final abode of he lost, it was the “intermediate” place of torment.
The Lord Jesus spoke of hell frequently. He referred to the unsaved going into “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46) and “everlasting fire” (v. 41). He said that these lost people would be cast into “the furnace of fire” where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42, 50). John the baptizer spoke of “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). Jesus said that the unrepentant sons of the kingdom would be “cast out into outer darkness” where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). Can you imagine how utterly destitute it will be to experience this—total darkness and pain so keen that there will be loud crying and gnashing of teeth! We must also remember that the “whole body” will be “cast into hell” so it will be something felt by every nerve of the human body (Matthew 5:29). Let’s remember that God is able to “destroy both soul and body in hell” (10:28). Let us run from such a place!
What will happen when Christ returns? Paul answers by saying that He will be revealed from heaven “with His mighty angels in flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:7). What will he do at this time? He will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (v. 8). What will happen to these unsaved people? “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (v. 9). In other words, they will not only be destroyed, but they will be forever excluded from the blessed presence of Christ Jesus the Lord! This is not at all a fate we would want to experience! (We might also note that when Christ comes, it will not be quiet and will not be secret. Christ’s coming will be one of judgment and fire!)
Let’s also remember that Peter wrote of unrepentant angels who were delivered to “chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4; cf. Jude 1:6). Similarly, unsaved people will be in darkness and from there face the judgment.
At the great Judgment, the lost will be cast into “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). They will be “tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb” (14:10). Wouldn’t this be horrible especially since we will be fully conscious of the fact that we could have escaped this terrifying destiny—but refused to repent and change our ways! At the end, the devil, the “beast” and the false prophet will be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). The torment will be horrible enough, but to experience this eternally will make this unimaginable and tragic!
What will you and I do with these truths that we have been noticing from Scripture? We’ve probably all known friends, teachers, neighbors, and family members who have died. They are no longer with us. Probably most of these ones who are gone were unprepared to meet God in Judgment! They may be considered unbelievers (cf. John 3:18; Mark 16:16). Maybe they didn’t know God or obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Or they may have once known the Lord and His righteous way, but chose to turn away and remain in sin and unbelief (2 Peter 2:20-22; James 5:19-20; Matthew 25:31-46). They died with unforgiven sin, thus died in their sins (John 8:24). This is an awful condition—to depart from this life and unprepared to meet God!
Although we can do nothing now to change the destiny of these ones who have died, we can still reach out a loving and compassionate hand in the present time to those who are still alive. If they don’t know God, we can introduce them to Him (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). If they are still in their sins, we can show them how they can be forgiven (Acts 2:38; 3:19). If they are separated from the Lord, we can show them how to be reconciled to Him (Romans 5:6-11). If they have never been Scripturally born again, we can show them how to come to Christ and thereby find the new spiritual birth into God’s family (John 3:3-7, 14-18l; James 1:18, 21). God may use you to be the mediator between these lost dear ones and a loving God who longs to bring them into His saving fold!
Maybe you, yourself, are not prepared to die and meet God. Friend, this is no trifling matter—for hell is just as Scripture describes it in those passages we noticed earlier. This is the truth and we all must face and we may not have time to spare. None of us is guaranteed another year, month, week, or even day! God calls on us to get right with Him now, while we still have the time and opportunity. Don’t refuse to come to Him for at any time you may depart this life and never be able to change your destiny for all eternity! If we refuse to turn to God while we may, His words to us will be what He said of the rich but foolish man in Luke 12: “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (vv. 19-20).
You surely don’t want to go to hell! Now is the day of preparation!