Hell, part 2

Who will go to hell?

Revelation 20:15 says, "And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire." Jesus taught that there are only two groups of people--the saved and the lost (John 3:16-17, Matt. 13:47-50). The saved are those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord, while the lost are those who reject Him. Jesus also said most people will choose to spend eternity in hell rather than follow Him (Matt. 7:13-14).

What will hell be like?

Jesus described hell as a furnace of fire (Matt. 13: 42, 50) and a place of outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). He said it is better to lose a part of your physical body than to go to hell (Matt. 5:29-30). Hell is also described as a lake of fire:
  • It is a lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8).
  • It burns with fire (Rev. 19:20, 20:10, 14-15, 21:8).
  • It is an eternal fire (Matt. 18:8).
  • It is an unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43,48).
  • Luke 16:19-31 presents a very graphic picture of hell. The rich man in hell was in torment (v.23), cried for mercy (v.24), and was thirsty (v.24). He was in agony in a flame (v.24) and he could remember what his life was like while he was living on earth (v.25). He was separated from the righteous (v.26) and realized he couldn't get out. He wanted someone to go warn his five brothers, who were still alive on earth, to not go to the place of torment (v.27-28).

    How long will hell last?

    Hell is a place of eternal punishment (Heb. 6:2, Jude 7). Because it's not pleasant to think about a place of punishment from which there is no escape, some have invented their own ideas about hell. A couple of false views are Annihilation, which teaches the fate of the wicked is destruction rather than eternal torment, and Universalism, which teaches everyone will eventually be saved.

    Jesus said (concerning Judas), "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24, Mark 14:21). I. M. Haldeman said, "If death means the extinction of being, why should life be worse for Judas than any other wicked traitor? No matter how great his guilt, death would end it all…Never to have been born means never to have come into existence. If death means going out of existence, then never to have been born and to die are equivalent conditions; they mean the same thing--nonexistence. Why, then, did the Lord say it would have been good not to come into existence? Why did He not say (seeing the man was born and there was no use in wasting regrets over his birth)--why did He not say, 'It will be good for that man when he dies, for when he dies he will then be just as if he had never been born--nonexistent'?" (Millennial Dawnism, p. 371)

    Jesus couldn't say it would have been good for Judas to not have been born if He believed Judas would ultimately be saved. Ultimate salvation would mean Judas would have hope of ultimately being reconciled to God. First Corinthians 4:13 says Christians don't grieve as those who have no hope.

    Matthew 25:41-46 makes it clear hell is a place of eternal punishment. The righteous go into eternal life and the wicked go away into eternal punishment. The same Greek word is used for "eternal" in referring to both life and punishment, meaning the duration is the same for both groups.

    In Rev. 19:19-20, the beast (the Antichrist) and the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire by Christ at His second coming. One thousand years later, when the millennium is completed, Jesus casts the devil into the lake of fire "where the beast and false prophet are also." After one thousand years of being in the lake of fire, they aren't annihilated but are "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). This is the strongest expression that can be used concerning eternal punishment.

    Isn't hell really the grave?

    Jehovah's Witnesses teach that hell is the grave. Let's substitute the words "the grave" instead of "hell" in the scriptures and see if it makes sense:
  • Isa. 66:24--They will look into the grave where they won't die and the fire isn't quenched.
  • Matt. 8:12, 22:13--Cast into the grave where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • Rev. 20:10--Tormented in the grave day and night forever and ever.
  • Matt. 25:41--The grave is prepared for the devil and his angels.
  • Luke 12:5--Only God has authority to cast into the grave.
  • Obviously, hell is not the grave but a place of existence beyond the grave.

    How can I keep from going to hell?

    No one has to go to hell. God desires for everyone to be saved (1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9). Our sins have separated us from God and the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of eternal life is eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:23). The blood that Jesus shed of the cross is the only way you can be cleansed from your sins (Heb. 9:11-12, 22). You can receive eternal life today by receiving Jesus Christ into your life. If you would like to know more about this, click here.

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