What is hell?

"Flames" by William Warby 2010 (CC BY 2.0) derivative- flickr-300

What is hell?

Have you ever wondered how a just and loving God could torture His enemies for eternity? Could it be that the popular view of hell is not biblical? Just what is hell?

Friends, the reputation of God’s character is at stake here. Let’s see what the Bible really says about hell.

In our last post, we answered the question “What is death?” If you have not already, please take a few minutes to go back and read that. It contains an important foundation for today’s message.

We have learned that the dead clearly do not go to heaven or hell at death; rather they go to the grave:

For ye say, Where… are the dwelling places of the wicked?…
[D]o ye not know their tokens,
That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.
Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?
Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb. ~Job 21:28–32

However, the day of wrath will come. The wicked will “see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.” (Job 21:20)

But the question remains, What does that mean? What is hell? Actually, let’s break it down even further. Let’s look at the who-what-when-where-how-and-why of hell.

The who in hell

First, let’s get this straight: God never intended people to have to go to hell. He has done and is doing everything He possibly could to save us.

Satan made some very poor choices way back in time, and hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41)

Peter tells us “The Lord… is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” In the figurative language of Isaiah, the Lord cries, “What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?” (2 Peter 3:9; Isaiah 5:4)

Unfortunately, the devil will not be the only one in hell. We’ll get to that in “the why of hell” section.

What is hell?

It is hard to concentrate on this one question without getting into all of the others, but consider this for a moment:

“[T]he wages of sin is death….” ~Romans 6:23a

Note what is does not say. It does not say “the wages of sin is dying.” It does not say “the wages of sin is torment.” It does not say “the wages of sin is life.” No, “the wages of sin is death.”

In fact, it’s opposite is immediately given:

“…but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ~Romans 6:23b

Any question about what death is? Go back to that last post again: “What is death?

Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

“Hold up!” you say? Are you wondering about all those torment verses? Like “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” and “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” and “cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” and… yeah, those.

Let’s save that for another post, but have no fear–there is an answer! And when we are done with this study, I am quite certain you will be in awe at the mercy of our loving God.


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