Can you handle the truth? Here is a quick synopsis of the Biblical teaching on hell:
The Terror of Hell (2 Thess. 1:6-10)
We know about terror. For years now there has been much said about terror and terrorism. The word “terror” means, “intense, overpowering fear”—and that is what we talk about when we talk about hell. It is more than a common curse word and it is definitely not a joke. When we speak of “hell” we rightly become filled with intense and overpowering fear.
since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed (2 Thess. 1:6-10).
In this text Paul is commending the young believers in Thessalonica. In his first letter we learn that these people were formerly idol worshipping pagans who, in their repentance, turned from those idols to serve the One, True, Living God (cf. 1 Thess. 1:7-9). Because of their faith in Christ Jesus alone they were facing all kinds of persecutions and tribulations. Because they are enduring in patience and faith, Paul says that this is “manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God”—that is to say that their patience is proof positive that God’s way was right and just (God was using the very trials and tribulations and sufferings to produce godliness in them). In other words, the suffering of believers is not a reason to call into question God’s power or goodness, but rather it is an opportunity to demonstrate both His power and His goodness.
Moreover, Paul continues on by saying, “since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you” (1:6). In other words, the wisdom of God is seen in the fact that persecutions and sufferings are used to purge and purify the believers, but we also see His wisdom in that He will actually repay the wicked—those who are the very source of persecution and suffering in the life of the believer. You see, that is why we read, “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19).
When will God repay the wicked? “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels”(1:7). This judgment will come when Christ appears in His Second Coming. Who will God judge? “those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”(1:8). How will God repay the wicked? “shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (1:9). This leads us to consider the terror of hell—the intence and overpowering fear of hell. Why is hell, hell? Well, hell is hell because of…
Its’ Destruction (2 Thess. 1:9)
“with everlasting destruction”
Hell is a real place and it is a place of destruction or punishment. It is not a place where people can commit any kind of sin that they choose without guilt. No! It is a place that is reserved for destruction and punishment. Notice the words here, “punished”-the word refers to a standard of conformity. When I punish my children I am holding them to a standard of righteousness which, when not kept earns judgment. That is what this word means. It is the punishment that comes as a result of not meeting God’s standard of righteousness.
How shall they be punished? “with everlasting destruction”. The word “destruction” means “ruin” not absolute annihilation. Hell is a place of intense and overwhelming fear because it is a place of ruin and destruction. It is a place where all of that you have ever earned or worked for or produced or valued or loved or treasured will be destroyed. It is a place that will facilitate the ruination of your soul.
Hell is hell because of …
Its’ Duration (2 Thess. 1:9)
Did you notice that Paul uses the word “everlasting” to modify “destruction”? The word “everlasting” is the Greek word that speaks of that which is perpetual or eternal. There is absolutely no end to this ruin or destruction. It goes on forever. There are those who’d like us to think that hell is not eternal. There are those even in evangelical churches who subscribe to what theologians call annihilationism—the belief or thought that hell will be a place of temporary torment and then absolute annihilation.
Listen to the eternal testimony of the Scriptures:
And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, And their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh (Isa 66:24)
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt(Dan. 12:2).
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt 25:41).
And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Mt 25:46).
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched (Mr 9:43).
These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (2Pe 2:17).
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2Pe 3:7 ).
raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 1:13 ).
Hell is hell because of…
Its’ Damnation (Matthew 23:33)
“how can you escape the condemnation of hell?”
The Word“condemnation” is usually translated “judgment”. Not only is hell a place of eternal destruction but it is a place of eternal condemnation—eternal damnation or judgment.
Speaking to the hypocritical Pharisees Jesus claims that their own words condemn them of unrighteousness though they were claiming otherwise. If their own words condemn them here, how will they escape the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-righteous, all-powerful judgment of God of (not in) hell? Hell is all about the judgment of God—the inhabitants of hell will constantly be under the scrutiny of God.
Hell is hell because of…
Its’ Darkness and Fire (Matthew 25:30,41)
“…into the outer darkness … into the everlasting fire”
One of the most mind-boggling things about hell is that it is a called a place of “darkness” and yet also a place of “everlasting fire”. This is absolutely beyond human comprehension.
Jesus is in the midst of describing those who reject Him, to those He will say, “Depart from Me you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angles” (25:41).
Hell is called both “everlasting darkness” in Jude 7 and “the lake of fire” in Revelation 20:25. All of this points to one very obvious fact: hell is a place of unspeakably terrible torment. When Jesus taught about that poor beggar Lazarus and the wickedly self-righteous rich man it is said of that rich man that he was “in torments”. He himself gave the testimony saying, “for I am tormented in this flame”.
In hell people won’t see each other or anything but rather be tormented in the eternal heat of the Lake of Fire.