Unbelievers ridicule the whole idea of eternal punishment; the church seems ashamed to proclaim that hell really exists. We feel uncomfortable and stammer lamely when critics ask, “How can a loving God send people to hell forever?”

The biblical writers took a different attitude, however. The Old Testament frequently predicted the eternal doom of those who forget God. The Apostles of Jesus often included “the wrath to come” in their writings.(2 Peter 2)

Far from being ashamed to bring up the subject, they portrayed hell as the dark background that makes the cross of Christ glow with glory divine. They boldly preached hell is as certain as heaven. Their Master taught them this truth. He not only promised heavenly glory for believers, but also warned of eternal punishment for unbelievers. And the Apostles preached Christ as the only way to escape that punishment. To them, the Gospel is “good news” only if it rescues sinners from a real Lake of Fire. So if hell is a fantasy, the New Testament becomes irrelevant drivel.

You may want to see our second part of this series “Is There Really a Heaven?“, listen here.

What Hell Is Not:

Present life is not hell:

People often say hell is any intensely painful experience you go through in this world; a bad marriage, a lost job, a terminal illness. They are wrong! We may suffer greatly in this life, but it is not hell. That infernal region is not to be found in the here and now on a map. The lost go to hell and experience its horrors only AFTER they die, never before. (Luke 16:22-24)

Hell is not satan’s throne:

Some think the devil now rules there and loves it, as if hell were his comfortable home. No way! He is neither in hell now, nor will he enjoy it once he gets there. On the Judgment Day, Jesus will condemn the prince of darkness and all evil spirits to suffer eternal torment in hell. (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41)

What Hell Is:

Hell is obviously a place of everlasting punishment for those who reject God. But what is the nature of that punishment?

Eternal separation:

Hell is separation from God’s love and favor. This describes the most dreadful and painful of all hell’s horrors. The wicked are – Shut out (2 Thess. 1:7- 9); Sent away (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 13:27); Thrown out of God’s fellowship (Luke 13:28; Matthew 8:12); Depart from His presence (Matthew 25:41). God is perfectly just and fait to do this; for the people in hell are those who had already chosen to separate themselves from God while on earth. Therefore it is only right to send them to the one place where they will continue to be separated from God. After all, they prepared themselves for it. They would not be ready for any other place.

Intense pains in body and soul:

To describe the physical torments, Scriptures sometimes uses the word “fire.” (Matthew 5:22; 18:8;25:41) We should not press this term too far. Maybe hell’s physical tortures will be far worse than any literal fire on earth, but Jesus used this word because it conveys the most intense form of physical suffering mankind knows. Weeping and gnashing their teeth. (Matthew 8:12; 13:42,50; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28) There will be intense spiritual agony there. Pangs of conscience, despair, loneliness, hopelessness and memory of what might have been, are just a few of hell’s pains. It’s spiritual misery never ends. (Revelation 14:9-13; 20:10; Matthew 25:46) Dante may have been right when he said that over hell’s portals are these words, “Abandon ye all hope!” 

Hell means wastefulness:

It is a garbage dump. Jesus often described hell by using the word “Gehenna.” this Greek term referred to the “Valley of Hinnom,” a garbage heap into which the Jews of Jerusalem threw their filth and trash. A fire burned there constantly to keep the valley clean. Whenever Jesus used this word, He meant that hell is the eternal trash dump, a place of wastefulness where “unquenchable fire” burns forever. To every person God has given the precious gift of life along with myriads of blessings, opportunities and warnings. But when we discard these gifts and disobey God’s Word, life becomes wasted; it turns into a garbage heap. And hell is the place where God sends those who have thus wasted and ruined their lives.

Hell is filled with people who once were made to walk with God, but now have been so disobedient they are no good, USELESS!