If you believe the King James Bible, you must believe that all who die lost will suffer eternal and conscious torment in hell, and then ultimately in the lake of fire, because that is exactly what the word of God teaches. This is not a pleasant truth, but it is the truth. Those who would tell you otherwise are deceivers (Eph. 5:5-6). If you love people, you will tell them the whole truth.
According to the scripture, hell is a real place that is located down in the heart of the earth (Amos 9:2; Lk. 10:15). After the millennial reign, it will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). It is a place of unquenchable fire, worms (Mk. 9:43-48), torment (Lk. 16:23), darkness (2 Pet. 2:4), hopelessness, weeping, and separation from God (2 Thess. 1:9).
The reality of this horrible place should impact and motivate everybody. Only a fool would take hell lightly. It should motivate the lost to trust Christ as their Saviour. It should motivate Christians to reach the lost. Do we really believe what God said about hell?
Jesus Speaks of Hell
Of the 23 times that the word “hell” is used in the New Testament, 15 of those references were spoken by Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry. He warned of “hell fire” (Matt. 5:22; 18:9) and eternal damnation (Matt. 25:41, 46). There are about 162 texts in the NT that speak of eternal damnation, and Christ spoke over 70 of them. Jesus Christ is the Truth (Jn. 14:6) and always spoke the truth. To deny the reality of hell is to call Christ a liar!
Lewis Sperry Chafer said, “Men are pleased to receive the Bible revelation concerning Heaven, but do not heed its warning regarding hell. Human sentiment, opinion, and reason are valueless regarding these eternal issues. It is wisdom to heed the voice of the Son of God, and He more than any other has stressed the woes of the lost.”
Christ plainly taught that hell is not the grave. If hell is just the grave, as false teachers claim, what is the point of this warning?
(4) And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. (5) But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Lk. 12:4-5)
Hell Comes After Spiritual Life
Notice that hell comes AFTER physical death. The soul is distinct from the body and remains conscious after physical death (Gen. 35:18; Lk. 16:19-31; 23:43; Phil. 1:21-23). The reality of hell should cause people to fear God. Most people fear man more than God. Yet, the worst that a man can do to you is kill your body. God has the power to cast you into hell! Some claim that a loving God would never do such a thing.
Those that deny the reality of hell do so based on human reasoning and have not submitted themselves to the authority of holy scripture. There is a hell because of the absolute holiness of God and the awfulness of sin, and our human minds cannot fully comprehend either.
A definitive passage on hell is found in Luke 16:19-31. Christ gave a true and literal account of what happened to two men, one saved and the other lost, after death. Those who do not agree with His teaching attack the passage by saying it is a parable that is not to be taken literally. This is a literal and historical account, not a parable:
- In the parables of Christ, a common and earthly story is told to conceal and reveal spiritual truth. This is not a common and earthly story.
- In the parables of Christ, proper names are never used. Lazarus, Abraham, and Moses are real people.
- Even if this were a parable it would not disprove the consciousness of the soul after death or the reality of hell which is clearly taught in other passages. If it were a parable, what could hell represent but hell itself? In the parable of the tares of the field Christ spoke of the tares being burned. In the interpretation of the parable He declared that the furnace of fire was real (Matt. 13:36-43).
False teachers attack the passage because it attacks their false doctrines:
- Soul sleep – the rich man, Lazarus, and Abraham are conscious, the body sleeps in the grave
- Hell is only the grave – vv.22-23 contrast the grave and hell
- Universal salvation – no second chance after death, those who die lost stay lost
Some do not believe that God would allow anyone to suffer in conscious torment forever. They believe in eternal life but not everlasting punishment (Matt. 25:46). If eternal life is to be taken literally, so is everlasting punishment! It is not the will of God for any soul to perish in hell (Jn. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9) but all those who die in their sins will suffer in the same everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10-15).
Everlasting fire does not mean annihilation. The antichrist and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire when Christ comes again to earth (Rev. 19:20). A thousand years later, the devil is cast into the lake of fire where the antichrist and false prophet still ARE.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 20:10)
The apostle Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books in the NT and never used the word hell. Some take this to mean that he did not believe in eternal damnation. It is foolish to build a doctrine on silence. For example, Paul did not plainly speak of the virgin birth of Christ, but he implied it (Gal. 4:4). Perhaps one of the reasons that the Spirit did not inspire Paul to write much about hell is that the doctrine of it was already established in the scripture. We need the whole Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). Although Paul did not use the word hell, he affirmed the reality of it in his epistles. Consider how Paul described hell in the following verse.
Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (2 Thess. 1:9)
When Paul referred to the Great White Throne Judgment in Romans 2, he used words such as: “judgment,” “wrath,” “anguish,” and “perish.” He referred to God’s wrath over 15 times in his epistles.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matt. 23:33)
The Good News!
The good news is that you can escape the damnation of hell. Stop trusting your works and trust the finished work of Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). Christ defeated sin, death, and hell through His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3-4). All those who believe the gospel of Christ have eternal life and will never perish (Rom. 8:38-39; Eph. 1:13).
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23)
David O'Steen has been the pastor of Hope Bible Church in Jackson, GA since 2005. Pastor O'Steen believes that the King James Bible is the inspired and preserved word of God (2 Tim 3:16) and that rightly dividing (2Tim 2:15) is the key to understand the Bible.