By Milburn Cockrell
No minister enjoys preaching on the subject of Hell. He speaks upon this theme because his God-given duty demands it. A minister is not at liberty to dodge the unpleasant. Hell is a Bible subject, and it is a part of the Scripture which is profitable for doctrine. To neglect this unpleasant subject will not remove it from the pages of the Holy Book. A Bible-believing minister must preach on the topic of Hell, for it is a part of the whole counsel he is to preach. If preachers would preach more on Hell, there would be less Hell in the world.
The word "Hell" occurs 11 times in the New Testament. Five of these times it came from the lips of Jesus Christ. Our Lord was what the religious world of today would have called "a Hell-fire preacher." Jesus Christ was constantly warning men about the reality of Hell-fire. It was to Him a grim fact. No minister can follow Christ without preaching on the subject of Hell.
Eddism, Armstrong, and Russellism deny the existence of a literal, burning Hell. Liberal ministers speak of it as a figure of speech, not a literal fact. Professional preachers seldom if ever speak to their worldly-minded members about this subject. Unsaved people seek to somehow remove the doctrine of Hell from the minds of people by making it no more than a byword. Beware of anyone who denies the reality of Hell. The denial of this truth is the most attractive form of infidelity. Those who do not believe in a literal, burning Hell will when they lift up their eyes in it.
FALSE THEORIES ABOUT HELL
If Satan cannot convince men that there is no Hell, then he will try to get them to believe it is nothing more than a Sunday school picnic. He whispers in the ears of his deceived children: "Those who are cast into Hell will be burned up in a minute and the pain will be over." Sometimes he says to them: "Those sent to Hell will be given another chance to be saved. God is too good to allow men to burn forever in Hell-fire." But all of the lies of Satan cannot put the fire out in Hell. Even if Satan could succeed in removing from the minds of all men the reality of Hell, it would in no sense lessen the eternal torments of Hell.
The grave is not Hell as some claim. There are two different words used for Hell in the Greek New Testament, one to mean Hell and another the grave. If Hell were the grave the Bible would have plainly said so. But suppose, for the sake of argument Hell does mean the grave. I will now read a verse and substitute the word "grave" for "Hell." In Luke 16:23 the Bible would say: "In the grave he lift up his eyes, being in torment." Have you ever known a man to lift up his eyes in the grave? Also notice that the change of the word fails to do away with the torment.
The grave is where the body rests between death and the resurrection. The rich man's body was in the grave on earth, but his soul was in torment in Hell-fire. The rich man was not just in the grave when he cried out, "I am tormented in this flame." He wanted his brothers to repent "lest they also come to this place of torment" (Luke 16:28). He wanted them to repent while they were still alive on earth (Luke 16:30). If one went back to his brothers he would have gone "unto them from the dead" (Luke 16:30). Repentance would not have kept his brothers from the grave (Hebrews 9:27), but it would have kept them from Hell!
But somebody said that the word is hades in the Greek text, and it does not refer to a place of torment. Very well, let us use the Greek word in Luke 16:23: "In hades he lift up his eyes, being in torment." Changing the name of the place does not do away with the torment. It does not change the fact that the rich man after death was tormented in Hell-fire. Hadessimply means what we mean by the old-fashioned English word "Hell." The place of torment for the disembodied spirits of the wicked.
Another says, "You can't prove anything by Luke 16 for it is a parable." Who told you so? It is not called a parable in the inspired Word. The translators did put a note at the beginning of the chapter saying it was a parable, but this note was added by uninspired translators. The parables are generally announced by some such expression as this, "He spake a parable unto them," but we have no such expression here in Luke 16. Our Lord never used proper names in His parables, but we have the names of two real persons in Luke 16. Abraham and Lazarus. This is not a parable. It is a historical incident.
But suppose it was a parable? Did Jesus Christ build a parable upon a falsehood? If Luke 16 is figurative language, then the things symbolized must be far worse than what He described in figures. This would not lessen the horrors of Hell. Rather, it would make it a worse place than a place of fire and torment.
I want to ask a question to those who say that Luke 16 is a parable: What are these parabolic dogs who licked the parabolic sores of the parabolic beggar as he lay on the parabolic steps of the parabolic rich man's parabolic house, watching him eat his parabolic food? I await their answer.
Sheol sometimes means the place of punishment in the Old Testament. Psalm 9:17 says: "The wicked shall be turned into Hell (sheol)." The meaning cannot be merely grave. The wicked are not the only ones laid in the grave, for the righteous who die are also laid in the grave. Being turned into Hell must mean the peculiar portion wicked men suffer in Hell-fire (Job 20:26,29; Psalms 11:6). Consider also Proverbs 15:24: "The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from Hell beneath." Wisdom will not keep a man from the grave; it will deliver his soul from the fires of Hell. Only those wise unto salvation are delivered from Hell.
Hades in the Greek New Testament is the equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol. It is found 11 times in the Greek New Testament. It is translated 10 times "Hell" and 1 time "grave." Hades does not mean the grave as I have already shown in my discussion on Luke 16. The grave is a place of rest. Luke 16 speaks of Hell being a place of torment. Hence they cannot be one and the same.
It matters very little what title we give to the place called Hell. One may call it sheol or hades, or even something else. The fact forever remains that Hell is Hell; Hell is a real place. In Luke 16:28 it is called "a place of torment." Judas is said at death to have gone "to his own place" (Acts 1:25). Since Judas was "a devil" we understand it meant Judas went to Hell, for the devil's place is in Hell. It is important that men know that Hell really does exist. It is vital that they concern themselves with escaping this awful place of torment.
Another name of Hell is Tophet. Isaiah 30:33 reads: "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." In the Old Testament Tophet was a place in the valley of the son of Hinnom, where the Israelites burnt their children in the fire to Molech (I Kings 11:7). To drown out the cry of the infant, drums were beaten upon during the sacrifice. Hence they named the place "Toph," which means a drum (Jeremiah 7:31-32). The place is used to describe the abode of the disembodied spirits of wicked men.
In the Greek New Testament we read of Gehenna, which is the same place called Tophet in the Old Testament. The valley of Hinnom was originally the place where rites of Molech were celebrated. It was converted by King Josiah into a place of abominations, where dead bodies were thrown and burnt (II Kings 23:13-14). In the time of Christ this deep, narrow glen south of Jerusalem had become the city dump, a place of ever- burning fires.
Gehenna was a popular expression for Hell. Jesus Christ chose to use this word to describe Hell, the final home and condition of the unregenerate. In Gehennathe trash of the city was burned. Hell is the place where the trash of the world is burned. Gehenna is used 12 times in the New Testament, and in 11 of these 12 times it is used by Jesus Christ. All reference to it are associated with judgment and fire.
What is the difference in Gehenna and Hades?Are they the same place? Hades is the present Hell to which unsaved people go at death. It is a place of fire and torment according to Luke 16. Gehenna is yet unoccupied at present. It seems to be synonymous with the lake of fire. Gehenna is the final Hell. Hades, the present Hell, is finally cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:14 tells us: "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire."
Allow me to illustrate the difference between Gehenna and Hades. A man is charged with a serious crime. He is placed in the county jail to await judgment. After his trial and conviction he is sentenced to the penitentiary. Even so, a lost sinner is kept under punishment in Hell until the day of judgment. After the judgment of the great white throne he is cast into Gehenna.Hadesis God's jail; Gehennais God's penitentiary.
God created Hell in eternity past. Isaiah said: "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large .... " God knew from all eternity that man would fall into sin. Hence He ordained the condemnation of wicked men from eternity for their sins. Tophet was ordained of old, and Jude speaks of "ungodly men" who were "before of old ordained to this condemnation" (Jude 4). In Romans 9:22 Paul mentions "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction."
Why did God create a Hell? The existence of Hell is necessary because there is a Heaven. If God did not send rebellious men and angels to Hell, there could be no Heaven for God and the saved. Would Heaven be Heaven if Satan were permitted to roam the golden streets? What if criminals and murderers were there? If unsaved people went to Heaven there would be wars, crime, sickness and death. A wise God has designed to keep sinners out of Heaven by sending them to Hell. If lost people and fallen angels entered the place of supreme happiness, Heaven would be Hell.
Some foolishly suppose that a loving God will not send a sinner to Hell. This is a soul-destructive error. God did not create Hell without a purpose. He made it a giant prison for fallen men and fallen angels. Those it was prepared for shall most certainly be sent there. God allows people today to go to the hospital for their sins. He permits criminals to be executed for their crimes. He will without question allow all unsaved people to go to Hell for their sins. Wicked men will suffer in Hell because they deserve to suffer. They rebelled against God just like the Devil, and their rebellion fitted them for Hell-fire.
There is no danger of Hell becoming over-populated. Hell was made by God to accommodate all sinners. The Bible says that God "made it deep and large" (Isaiah 30:33). Proverbs 27:20 says: "Hell and destruction are never full." Generations upon generations have gone down to Hell. Still it is not full. Isaiah 5:14 tells us that "hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth with out measure ... " This broad mouth is still open wide to take care of all who walk in the broad way that leads to destruction.
Dear unsaved friend, your sins kindle the very fires of Hell. God made Hell for impenitent sinners. It is the worst sort of folly to continue in sin and hope to escape Hell. It is about like a man drinking poison and saying he shall not die. It is about as sensible as for a person to jump off a great mountain and say the fall will not hurt him. It is about like sticking a knife in your heart and saying it will do you no harm. If a man drinks poison he might as well say that he is killing himself. Likewise, any person who continues in sin and flees from the Saviour of sinners has already bought for himself a one-way ticket to Hell fire. Flee, sinner. Flee from the wrath to come.
The teaching of Christ on Hell is in harmony with the view of the ancient Jews. This can be seen by some of the apocryphal writings. Judith 16:17 says: "Woe to the nation that rises up against my kindred; The Lord Almighty will take vengeance of them in the day of judgment, putting fire and worms in their flesh, and they shall feel them and weep for ever." Ecclesiasticus 7:16-17 says: "Number not thy self among the multitude of sinners, but remember the wrath will not tarry long. Humble thy soul greatly, for the vengeance of the ungodly is fire and worms." These verses are not inspired by God, although they do reveal the views of the Jewish people.
Modern students of the Word have a hard time accepting the words of Christ in their literal sense. They say these things just simply cannot be. They would say to me, "Surely you do not believe in immortal worms eating away at a man's fleshly body in a literal, burning Hell? Why no intelligent theologian living today believes any such foolishness!"
I reply that I believe exactly what Jesus Christ said. When the plain sense of the Scripture makes sense, I seek no other sense. It would be no more of a problem for God to make an immortal worm than an immortal soul. What could be more tormenting to a man in Hell, who still possesses his soul and body, than maggots eating on his flesh day and night, always eating and never devouring the body. If the undying worms are a metaphor as some say, then it describes a greater misery than is felt by a living man who feels his body eaten by maggots.
Jesus Christ not only said Hell was a place of undying worms, but He also said it was a place of fire. I believe He meant literal, physical, material fire. In Matthew 5:22 He declared: "... but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." In Matthew 18:9 He again made reference to "hell fire." In the historical incident about the rich man, He disclosed that the rich man cried out: "I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16:24). In the parable of the wheat and tares He said the children of the Devil are to be burned in "a furnace of fire" (Matthew 13:42). Jesus Christ never told a lie. If He said there is fire in Hell, then there is fire in Hell.
The other Bible writers often spoke about there being fire in Hell. Moses wrote that Jehovah said: "For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains." The psalmist, speaking of the wicked, declared: "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup." (Psalms 11:6). Isaiah wrote of "everlasting burnings" (Isaiah 33:14). James mentioned the "fire of hell" (James 3:6). The Apostle John spoke in the Revelation of a "lake of fire" (Revelation 19:20; 20:10,14-15; 21:8). Since I believe the Bible is literally true I have no choice but to believe in a literal, burning Hell.
"Come on, preacher, surely you do not think that people with literal bodies will be cast into Hell, do you?" Yes, I most assuredly do. Matthew 10:28 tells us that both soul and body will be cast into Hell. In Mark 9:43-49 Jesus spoke of literal hands, literal feet, and literal eyes being in the bodies of those cast into Hell. "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched. Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt."
Please observe carefully the last words in the quote from Mark chapter 9: "Salted with fire." Fire to the wicked in Hell will be what salt is to meat on earth. Salt on earth keeps meat from corruption. Even so, the fire of Hell will torture and distress evil men, yet it will preserve their being with all their powers and faculties. The fire of Hell, instead of annihilating their bodies, will preserve them. The Divine wrath will preserve them from annihilation in order that their punishment may continue.
The Bible speaks of a resurrection unto damnation, a resurrection of the unjust. This means that the wicked shall have their bodies raised up again. They will be raised up and made to endure the torture of Hell without consuming. Did not God in mercy preserve the bodies of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego in the burning furnace of Nebuchadnezzar? And cannot His power do the same thing under the influence of His justice as well as of His mercy? Does not the Bible say that God will "show his wrath" and "make his power known" upon "the vessels of wrath" (Romans 9:22)? The God who kept the burning bush Moses saw from consuming itself can keep alive bodies covered by worms and burning in the fires of Hell.
Wicked men serve the Prince of Darkness; they engage in the works of darkness. It is only fitting and right then that they be reserved to the darkness of Hell. Those in Hell are eternally shut out of the kingdom of light and deprived of the inheritance of the saints in light. They will spend their eternity in a place of extreme darkness, darkness to the last degree, darkness that can be felt, a darkness without the least ray of light or hope. How uncomfortable and frightful is the dismal and dark dungeon God has prepared for all unbelievers! How dreadful to contemplate an eternal existence in "a land of darkness, as darkness itself," a place "where the light is as darkness" (Job 10:22).
This doctrine of Hell is not to be taken lightly. Imagine stumbling and falling in the darkness of Hell without intermission! Running into people never knowing who they are! Hearing the cries and groans of millions of suffering souls who gnash their teeth in pain. Then add to this the ever-eating maggots in man's body and the anguish of his soul under the wrath of God! Coupled with this terror is the voice of insulting pride and hellish joy from thousands of demon spirits. These wicked spirits shall scoff at the sinners in Hell as being eternal fools!
Hell is described as a place where people are ever dying but never dead! The lake of fire, or Gehenna, is called "the second death" in Revelation 21:8. Revelation 20:14-15 tells us: "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." The righteous are exempt from this second death (Revelation 2:11; 20:6).
What is this second death? It is eternal separation from God. It is the culmination and completion of spiritual death. The lives and actions of the wicked on earth say in substance to God: "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways" (Job 21:14). The second death is God's granting the wicked their request on earth and making it permanent.
John called it the second death not because it in all respects resembles the first, but because it has so many points of resemblance that it may properly be called death. Physical death is the loss of the body; the second death is the loss of both soul and body in eternal Hell fire. The second death is eternal privation from God and all that is good. The Judge shall say to the lost on the great day: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41). II Thessalonians 1:9 speaks of some "who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power."
The Bible speaks of Hell being a place of destruction. "Hell and destruction" are mentioned together in the Bible (Job 26:6; Proverbs 15:11; 27:20). It is a place where both body and soul are destroyed with everlasting destruction, according to Matthew 10:28. This is not the extinction of soul and body, for you cannot annihilate an immortal soul. It is not the cessation of the body, for the bodies of the unsaved are to rise and suffer shame and contempt (Daniel 12:2). The destruction of Hell is not a destruction of being but of bliss. The unsaved in Hell are deprived of both joy and happiness.
To make Hell the extinction of being, as religious liberals often do, is to make the teachings of Christ void. Jesus Christ said of Judas: "It had been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matthew 26:24). This verse makes no sense if Hell is the cessation of man's being. To be in a state of none existence or to be unborn is the same. For a man to be extinct is to be as if he were never born. Therefore no comparison can be made between the two. However Christ did make a comparison between them, and He indicated that after death Judas would be worse off than before he was born. Judas would be worse off only if he would suffer in the fire of Hell at death.
The Bible says in Luke 16:23-24: "And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame." Then in verse 25 Abraham answers back from Paradise: "Thou art tormented." The rich man was promised no relief. This will add to the torment of the wicked and make the flames hotter, for everything in Hell is tormenting.
Second, Hell is a place without rest. In describing the condition of the wicked in Hell, John said: "They have no rest day nor night" (Revelation 14:11). Day and night is expressive of all time. The meaning is that the fire of Divine wrath is never quenched. The lost in Hell will have no rest from sin, Satan, and suffering; no intervals of terror, torment, or tears. There are no coffee breaks, or vacations, or holidays in Hell. Here on earth some rest comes to the sufferer. The prisoner sleeps in his cell. The sick patient in the hospital is relieved of his pain by either sleep or drugs. But it is not so in Hell. This luxury will be forever denied to the inmates of Hell. No one ever can sleep or rest in the gloomy prison.
Third, the inhabitants of Hell are in a place of punishment. In Hell men bear the punishment their sins deserve. Jesus said of the goat nations in Matthew 25:46 that they would "go away into everlasting punishment." II Thessalonians 1:9 speaks of some being "punished with everlasting destruction." An improved translation of II Peter 2:9 reads: "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment." This last verse leaves no doubt that the wicked are even now under punishment, and other Scripture makes it plain they are awaiting a future punishment in Gehenna.
Fourth, the inmates of Hell have undying memory. In Luke 16:25 Abraham said to the rich man: "Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented." People in Hell are forever remembering their sins. They will remember every sermon and song that they heard on earth. They will remember every opportunity they had. Nothing will bring more oil to the flames of Hell than, "Son, remember." I believe the undying memory is one of the chief tormentors in Hell. On earth sinners are called upon to remember their Creator, but they turn a deaf ear to this call. In Hell the misery of these same people will arise from a "Son, remember," to which they cannot turn a deaf ear.
How dreadful the sound of a gnawing, burning memory on the inside and unquenchable fire outside! No wonder there is no rest day nor night! No wonder it is said that their eyes weep, their tongues are almost dried with long wailings and outcries, their teeth gnashing with madness of thought. Nothing ever comes to relieve their piercing grief, nothing comes to divert or amuse this vexation of mind, nothing ever appears to soothe or ease this eternal pain in the head.
Fifth, those in Hell have raging desires which are never satisfied. In Luke 16 the rich man in Hell craved water. He could feel the sense of thirst. Thus the very raging appetites of men on earth will accompany them to Hell. The horror of Hell is that there is no possibility of gratifying these desires. There will be eternal hunger with no bread to relieve it; eternal thirst without a drop of water; eternal fatigue and weariness without power to sleep, and eternal lust without any hope of gratification. Today the drunkard cannot bear to pass the bar because of the crave for alcohol. In Hell he will crave this same booze without ever tasting a drop from the bottle. The drug addict and the adulterer will have all their bodily desires yet they will never be gratified.
Hell is the center in which all the lines of sin and of misery meet. Infernal fire is neither tolerable nor terminable. Impenitent sinners in Hell shall have end without end, death without death, night without day, mourning without mirth, sorrow without solace, and bondage without liberty. The damned shall live as long in Hell as God Himself shall live in Heaven. Their imprisonment in the dark dungeon is not an imprisonment during the King's pleasure, but an imprisonment during the everlasting displeasure of the King of kings.
Friend, please consider this easeless, endless state. There is not so much as one day of release from your awful pain. No change of weather or hope of clearing can be expected. There is nothing in Hell but a perpetual storm of fire and brimstone. Thus the greatest miseries of this life are incomparably less than the least torment in Hell. Never can you say that you are perfectly miserable till you land in the jaws of the second death!
Hell in the Bible is said to be low (Deuteronomy 32:22) and deep (Job 11:8; Proverbs 9:18). This indicates it must lie some place deep in the bowels of the earth. Sometimes when a reference is made to Hell in the Bible it is said to be down (Ezekiel 31:16-17; 32:27). In Matthew 11:23 Jesus spoke of Capernaum being "brought down to hell." In Proverbs 15:24 and Isaiah 14:9 there is mention of "hell beneath." These two expressions put Hell some where below us in the earth. Amos 9:2 tells how a man might dig down into Hell, implying again it is under the crust of the earth's surface.
Ezekiel 31:14 is very helpful in locating Hell. It speaks of some going down into "the nether parts of the earth." In verse 17 of the same chapter they are said to have gone down to Hell. Hence Hell is in "the nether parts of the earth." The Septuagint has "to the depth of the earth" in Ezekiel 31:14.
Christ's soul at the death of His body on the cross made a descent into the Paradise section (Luke 23:43) of Hades (Acts 2:31). Paul wrote about this as Christ's descension "into the deep" (Romans 10:7). In Ephesians 4:9 the apostle mentioned how Christ between His death and resurrection "descended first into the lower parts of the earth." Speaking concerning His future descent into Hades, Christ said: "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40). We know from Luke 16:19-31 that the Paradise section was opposite from the Hell section, separated by the great impassible gulf. This would prove that Hell again is in "the heart of the earth."
Some sin more than others; therefore, they deserve more punishment than others. Surely a just God would not punish all the same when all have not sinned the same against Him. A young child has not sinned as much as an old reprobate, nor is a lost man deserving of as much punishment as the Devil, who has sinned since the beginning of the world. Luke 12:47-48 speaks of one servant being "beaten with few stripes" and another "with many stripes."
Some sins are greater than others in the eyes of God. Jesus Christ told His enemies: "He that delivered me unto thee hath the GREATER sin" (John 19:11). The greater the sin, the greater the punishment. Hypocrites who devour widow's houses shall "receive the GREATER damnation" (Matthew 12:25-32; 23:14). Thus we can see that "the greater sin" deserves "the greater damnation."
There are some who have heard the preaching of the gospel week after week and have despised it. This will add to their punishment in Hell, for "unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required" (Luke 12:48). Jesus said that it would be "more tolerable" for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than those cities which had heard Him preach and work miracles (Matthew 11:20-24).
Comments upon such Scriptures are needless to any rational mind. Anyone can see from such statements that there is eternal punishment. Those who cannot see eternal punishment from these Scriptures, must admit that language has lost all its meaning, and that there is no language in the Bible that could express eternal punishment.
According to Matthew 25:41, the wicked are to be cast into the same everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. If the punishment of the Devil and his angels will endure to eternity and have no end, then the punishment of the wicked will also endure for ever and have no end. In Matthew 25:46 we read: "And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life" (ASV). Here the happiness of the saints in Heaven is eternal. No one believes that the happiness of the righteous ever ends; they contend it is eternal. But observe that the same word is used to describe the punishment of the wicked in Hell. The eternal punishment of the wicked can no more cease to be than the eternal life of the righteous. If there is no eternal punishment for the wicked, then there is no everlasting life for the righteous.
There are some rationalists and critics of the Bible who would have us believe that the words "everlasting" and "eternal" mean only "age lasting" or "a short period of time." This is verbal fallacy. These words are used in the Bible to express the eternity of God (Genesis 21:33; Deuteronomy 33:27; Romans 1:20; 16:26). These same words are employed to express the eternal life of the righteous (Daniel 12:2; Romans 6:23; John 3:15). To make everlasting and eternal mean age lasting, or a short time, is to destroy the eternity of God and the everlasting life of the righteous. Who but a religious infidel would dare to do any thing like that?
Just for the sake of argument let me suppose that the words "eternal" and "everlasting" have the limited meaning that religious liberals contend. Still they must confess there are other expressions which are not liable to such a meaning. Consider the words of Christ in Mark 9:44,46,48: "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Revelation 14:11 remarks: "And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name." Jude 13 says "the blackness of darkness for ever" is reserved for the wicked. These expressions certainly carry with them the perpetual continuance of suffering and punishment of the wicked.
All who believe the Bible must believe in the perpetuity of the torment suffered by the wicked in Hell. Their misery will run parallel with the line of eternity. Their punishment is eternal because it is inflicted by an eternal God, and "whatsoever God doeth, It shall be for ever" (Ecclesiastes 3:14). Time cannot finish Hell, tears cannot wash it away. The wicked abide forever in the fires of Hell and are not consumed. After sinners have stayed there a million years, their punishment is as far from ending as It was at the beginning. When millIons of ages are past and gone, there will still be wrath to come.
Second, a sin committed agaInst an infinite God is itself infinite and deserves infinite punishment. The guilt of sin is infinite because it is measured, not by the powers of the offender, but by the majesty of God against Whom it is committed. As God is infinite, offense against Him is infinite. Because the creature cannot suffer infinite punishment in the intenseness of pain, he must bear it to an infinite duration. When Divine justice pronounces a sentence against a sinner, equal to the demerit of sin, It must be eternal, and the sinner shall never be released from the punishment until he has paid the utmost farthing. To deny this is to be guilty of the crime of contradicting the Almighty.
Third, eternal sin demands eternal punishment. Since man by nature is totally depraved, and since the damned in Hell are ever sinning against God, they ever provoke the vengeance of God, and He must continue their punishment for ever. The law of God that sanctions punishment for sin continues forever in force even in Hell. That law pronounces a curse upon all who continue not in all things it requires (Galatians 3:10). Every new sin demands a new curse and punishment. God cannot cease to punish as long as the sinner will not cease to offend. The sinner must be punished everlastingly because he always maintains an everlasting enmity and rebellion against the law of God.
Fourth, guilt is endless. It is indivisible and untransferable. A sin committed in youth brings lifelong suffering. Regardless of how long the sinner may be punished, he will never be ill-deserving. Justice gives to all their deserts; therefore, justice cannot cease to punish. Since the reason for punishment is endless, the punishment itself must be endless. Guilt once incurred never ceases to be. All past sins involve an endless guilt to which endless punishment is simply the inevitable correlation.
Fifth, the natural effects and consequences of sin living in the soul mean torment as long as the soul lives. Since the soul lives forever, sin lives in the lost soul forever. The soul of man never dies. Hence his passions, his desires, his fears, and his sorrows never cease. The rich man in Hell could feel and taste (Luke 16:24). How awful the pain and anguish upon the soul abandoned by God. How dreadful his everlasting darkness and despair, without a dawn of hope through all the ages of eternity! With a view of God's unchangeable holiness, such a soul will ever be filled with new fears and terrors without end (Romans 2:8-9).
First, in this list John mentions the fearful or cowardly. This means the class of people who shirk from the conflict with sin.
They are afraid to confess Christ before the wicked world. They will not identify themselves with the gospel of Christ. They are afraid the Bible may not be true. They fear the blood of Christ may not be sufficient. They are fearful of the self-surrender and cross bearing necessary to being a Christian. All such fearful souls are Hell-bound.
Second, John names the unbelieving. This refers not merely to infidels but to all unbelievers. It would include unbelieving hypocrites in the church and out of the church. This is the most numerous class of any, and it is found among all people and ranks. It points to every rejector of Christ. The Bible says the unbeliever "is condemned already" (John 3:18), and ultimately that he "shall be damned" (Mark 16:16). It is a fearful thing to set at nought the testimony of God concerning His Son. All such people cannot "escape the damnation of Hell" (Matthew 23:33).
Third, there is in the list the abominable. This denotes all who are morally, religiously, and physically filthy. This is the people who defile themselves with open and flagrant sin. These people are to every good work reprobates. They are addicted to the worst crimes ever committed by ungodly men.
Fourth, the murderers are included. This class is greatly on the increase due to lack of justice in the land. Murderers meddle with that which peculiarly belongs to God; human life. Some of these have murdered the prophets, the saints and the martyrs of Jesus. These are the brutes and butchers of the children of God in all ages. This includes those who commit the overt act and those guilty of the inward malice (I John 3:15).
Fifth in the list is whoremongers. This includes all impure lusts such as fornication, rape, incest, adultery, etc. It also points to those who make vows of celibacy and yet live in all forms of sexual impurity. It includes the overt act as well as the desire of the heart (Matthew 5:28).
Sixth, there is mentioned by John sorceries. These people profess intercourse with demon spirits. This includes necromancers, witches, wizards, fortune tellers, drug abusers, Devil worshippers, and other forms of sorcery. The lake of fire is God's appointed doom for all those who practice the black arts and engage in spiritualism.
Seventh in the list is idolaters. This is all worshippers of false gods. The millions of heathens in all ages who worship the gods of wood, silver and gold are given over to eternal judgment. This includes those who worship idols which are supposed to represent God and Christ. It also points to those who put earthly things before Christ and His cause.
Eighth in the list is "all liars." Here are liars of every degree, kind and character. This means religious liars and those who believe their lies. The Devil is the father of liars, and both Satan and his lying children are destined to the same abode.
Many of the sinners mentioned in Revelation 21:8 are prevalent in modern society. Even the religious world tries to justify such sinners as victims of a bad society. But God does not take sin and sinners lightly. He will consign the fearful, unbelievers, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars to the lake of fire. These people will suffer there the part that their sins deserve in a fire which is never exhausted.
Many of you who read this book are headed to this awful place as fast as time can carry you. Some of you are going to Hell past the pulpit and the Bible; going in the midst of warning and invitations. If you, dear friend, die in an unregenerate, unholy, unpardoned state, the lake of fire is your everlasting portion. Sinner, while your life remains, your hope remains. As soon as the thread of life is broken, there immediately ensues endless sorrow and pain in Hell.
Oh, foolish man! You are standing upon the slippery edge of a burning Hell and playing about as a madman. Do you ever stop and consider your doom? No, never! In spite of all the warnings of God and man, you go on in this madness day after day, laughing and cheering down the broad road to the everlasting bonfire. One day your foot is certain to slip, and you will slide and vanish out of the sight of your companions and be lost for ever. Then all hope will be gone. You will have plunged into the eternal regions of death, despondency, and darkness.
In a mental vision I see you in the flames. I see the fire as it exhibits a thousand fantastic forms. It is blazing in every conceivable hue and color; it is roaring and shrieking and sputtering; it is hissing and thundering and growling. I see you as you gnaw your tongue for pain. I see you as you weep and gnash your teeth. Yes, there you go, dodging and stumbling, running and falling; up again, on and on in ceaseless search for relief. Your tongue is parched for one drop of cooling water. Torment haunts you from every side. Years drag on; centuries move slowly past; millenniums creep on, and still you have no less to mourn your fearful fate!
In your indescribable misery I hear you cry out: "I have brought nothing here but myself. I stand here with a burning remorse which can never be stilled; a greed of desire which can never be satisfied; an unquenchable longing for things left behind, innumerable recollections of sins great and small, causing insufferable anguish, all being equally bitter, equally fraught with vain regret! I stand here as Satan's sucker!"
Oh, sinner, why continue in a life of sin on earth? Do you not know that sin is the fatal spring of eternal torment? Surely there is nothing that belongs to time that would tempt you to run the risk of the sorrows of eternity. Don't risk your immortal welfare for these dangerous and deceitful vanities on earth! It is a foolish bargain to trade the whole world for a season for endless perdition. What are swelling titles and earth's treasures when compared to the terrors, tears, and torments of Hell? What are fleshly gratifications in comparison to eternal banishment from the face of God?
Jesus Christ came to save sinners from the fires of Hell. He suffered their Hell for them in His body on the tree. He poured out His blood to wash away the stain of sin. He rose to justify His people. He lives on High to make intercession for them. So sleep no longer on the edge of endless burnings. Never rest one moment until you flee to Christ by a sincere repentance and a heartfelt faith.
Grace Bible Baptist Church
26080 Wax Road
Denham Springs, LA 70726