13 - The Great White Throne and Hell

There are three biblical concepts that I consider the most terrifying in their essence and horrifying in their results. The thought that any or all three of them could apply to my life has troubled me greatly at various times.

The first is that I was afraid I might commit blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that God would forgive every sin except this one. Thankfully, I heard a pastor teach that if a person was concerned that they might have committed this sin then they can rest assured that they have not. If they had committed it their conscience would have become so seared that they would not care if they had committed it.

The second concept that disturbed me was that the Book of Hebrews seems to say that if a Christian sins willfully after they received the salvation of Jesus Christ then there was no more forgiveness for them. However, every born-again Christian sins until the day they die. Many of these sins will be committed willfully because we are still in our corruptible flesh. The danger lies in the fact that if we keep abusing God's grace then eventually we will harden our hearts and turn from Him.

The final concept is one that terrified me as a child. I used to lie on my bed at night and think about the possibility that I might go to Hell. This thought brought a terror to me unlike anything else ever could. At that time, I like many people, believed that the only way a person could avoid going to Hell was by going to church every Sunday and being a good person. As we will see shortly I was greatly mistaken in this belief.

Let me say that all three of these concepts share a common theme: A willful rejection of the saving truths of God and the finality of that 

rejection. The results of rejecting God by any one of these methods are dreadful and eternal. Most people are interested in how to get to heaven. The three concepts listed above answer the question, "How do I go to Hell?"

In this chapter, I will discuss the concept of Hell and the judgment of God that will send people there.

The Great White Throne

After John saw the Devil cast into Hell, he wrote what he witnessed next:

"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it,

from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and

there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead,

small and great, stand before God; and the books were

opened: and another book was opened, which is the book

of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which

were written in the books, according to their works. And

the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and

hell [lit. hades] delivered up the dead which were in them:

and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell [lit. hades] 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


- Revelation 20:11-15

Now that human history and time are completed John sees the awful event that ushers in eternity. The Millennial earth and heavens dissolve before the eternal glory of God. All that he sees now is God sitting on His white throne and the unsaved dead whom He resurrected.

These resurrected dead include some of the greatest men and women who ever lived and others whom history does not remember. Sadly, these persons are those who for one reason or another rejected the saving truths of God and His Son Jesus Christ. God will judge each of these persons according to the works they did while they were alive.

Many people believe and many religions teach that a person can enter heaven based on the good deeds that they perform during their lifetimes. If you ask most people how will they get to heaven they usually respond by saying that they try to be good persons and do good things. However, the Bible dispels this notion of earning one's salvation:

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our

righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a

leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us


The prophet Isaiah states that all of our "righteousnesses" or good deeds are as filthy rags. The Hebrew word translated here as "filthy" actually means "menstrual". Therefore, according to the Bible our good works have the equivalent value of used menstrual rags if we do them apart from the will of God.

The apostle Paul addressed this issue in a letter He wrote to the Christians living in Corinth, Greece:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and

have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling

cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and

understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I

have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have

not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods

to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,

and have not love, it profits me nothing."2

The love Paul speaks about here is the Greek word "agape" which denotes unconditional love, the highest form of the expression of love. The apostle John wrote, "And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is [agape] love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him."3 Therefore, if we do not have the love of God in us then as Paul says all our good works are in vain. We can give all of our money to the poor yet if we do not have the love of God inside us it is to no avail.

Paul wrote about the sinful condition of humans in a letter to the Christians living in Rome:

"No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and

Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There

is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that

understands, there is none that seeks after God. They are

all gone out of the way, they are together become

unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not

one...For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of


Every human being that has ever lived is a sinner. Paul states that it is not in us to do righteous deeds from a pure heart. Many other biblical passages make the same point concerning the "good" works of humankind. However, there is one work that we can do to "earn" our way into heaven:

"Then said they unto Him, What shall we do, that we might

work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto

them, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him

Whom He has sent."5

Jesus states that the only "work" that a person can do to enter heaven is to believe in Him, God's only Son. None of our other works will earn us one second in heaven. The apostle Paul confirms this truth in a letter he wrote to the Church at Ephesus:

"For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of

yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man

should boast."6

It is only by God's merciful grace that He saves any human beings from the punishment of Hell. There is not one good deed that we can do to enter heaven. Going to church every Sunday will not save anyone nor will giving away all our money.

Paul, in writing to a Christian named Titus affirmed this truth:

"For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient,

deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in

malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after

that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man

appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have

done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the

washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our

Savior; That being justified by His grace, we should be

made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."7

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that it is only by God's loving mercy and grace that any human beings will be saved. Since the unsaved have rejected the grace that is available only through Jesus Christ, God will judge them based on their works. As we just read these works will have no saving value by themselves.

Therefore, the unsaved will be standing (or more likely prostrate) alone before God at the Great White Throne judgment. Sadly, they could have had the perfect attorney as the apostle John wrote:

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that you

sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the

Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."8

However, since they rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they will appear all alone before God's judgment seat.

I do not believe that any of the accused will try to give a defense of the lives that they chose to live. They will be standing before the Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent God of Eternity. God, the One who is an all-consuming fire according to the Book of Hebrews,9 will be their Righteous Judge. We read earlier how people were awestricken in the presence of angels. What will happen to them in the presence of the Almighty God?

The Book of Isaiah describes what happened to a righteous servant of God when he entered into the presence of God:

"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the LORD

sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train

filled the Temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one

had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two

he covered his feet, and with two he did fly. And one cried

unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of

hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory. And the posts of

the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the

house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I

am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I

dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes

have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of

the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand,

which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And

he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this has touched

your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin


The prophet Isaiah, who had been a faithful servant of the Lord, was devastated when he entered into the presence of God. He felt the excruciating weight of all the sins he had ever committed when he stood before the holiness of God. How much more overwhelmed will those persons be who have rejected God when they stand before Him at the Great White Throne? They too will feel the incomprehensible uncleanness of every sin they ever committed.

Jesus made an intriguing statement concerning human sin to the religious leaders during His earthly ministry because they had rejected Him as the Messiah:

"And He said unto them, You are from beneath; I am from

above: you are of this world; I am not of this world. I said

therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if

you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins."11

Since they rejected the only sacrifice that God accepts for human sin, when they die they will have all their sins as part of their eternal souls. And since God cannot have sin in His holy presence because He is a "consuming fire" He will have to remove these sinful beings from His presence. The writer of the Book of Hebrews declares this truth concerning the only sacrifice for sins available for humankind:

"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the

knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for

sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery

indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that

despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three

witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you,

shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the

Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant,

wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has

insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that has

said, Vengeance belongs unto Me, I will recompense, says

the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people. It is

a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."12

Indeed, it will truly be a fearful thing for the unsaved at the Great White Throne judgment when they "fall into the hands of the living God."

The Millennial Saints

Before I address the punishment that God metes out to these persons there is one more aspect to the Great White Throne judgment that I want to discuss. What happened to the people who were saved during the Millennial Kingdom? The short answer is that the Bible is unclear on this issue but it may hint as to what might happen to them.

As I stated in the last chapter, I believe the Millennium was God's way of showing humanity what His plans were for it from the beginning. I also pointed out some of the parallels between that time and the end-times. One more correlation I would like to make concerning the beginning of human history and the end of it might answer the question above.

In the book of Genesis, there is a genealogical list of humans from Adam on. The seventh descendant of Adam was a man named Enoch. The Bible makes an interesting statement concerning him:

"And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat

Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat

Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and

daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred

sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he

was not; for God took him."13

This passage states that Enoch walked with God. The implication is that he was a faithful and obedient servant of the Lord. All the humans named in this genealogy died except for Enoch. This verse simply says that Enoch was no more because God took him. This must have been a type of Rapture because it does not say that Enoch died yet he went to be with God. With the possible exception of the prophet Elijah, all the other godly persons mentioned in the Old Testament died. Why did God choose to rapture the little-known Enoch for this honor? No one knows but it is possible that God is teaching us something through this incident.

In the Bible the number "7" is sometimes representative of perfection or completion. Enoch was the seventh generation of humans on the earth. It is possible that just as God raptured Enoch right before the flood, which completed the first stage of human history, so too He will rapture the Millennial saints just before He completes the last stage of human history. Of course this is mere speculation on my part but again it ties the beginning of human history with the end of it.

Another possibility is that the Millennial saints will be judged with the unsaved dead at the Great White Throne judgment. Why else would God open the Book of Life at this judgment if He were only going to judge the unsaved persons? None of their names would be written in it so it would seem to be a superfluous act if that were the case. Therefore, it is possible that God will transform the bodies of these saints at that time. Even though the Bible is unclear on this point God will have to change the Millennial saints' mortal bodies into immortal bodies at some point so that they can exist in eternity.


Now we come to the punishment of the unsaved after God judges them. John wrote what he saw:

"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."14

The word hell here is actually hades in the Greek and refers to the abode of the dead. This is the place where the souls of all the dead went until the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus spoke of this place in a parable:

"There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple

and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there

was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his

gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs

which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs

came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the

beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's

bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell

[lit. hades] he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and sees

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."15

Though this is a parable I believe Jesus is actually describing the place where the souls of the dead went before His resurrection. He uses the word "hades" when speaking of the place where Lazarus and the rich man went after their deaths. It appears that Hades was divided into two sections. The righteous persons of God were in "Abraham's bosom" while the unrighteous were in a place of torment. When Jesus ascended into heaven He took the souls of the righteous with Him and left the unsaved in Hades to await their final judgment at God's Great White Throne:

"Wherefore he said, When He ascended up on high, He led

captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He

ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into

the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same

also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might

fill all things.)"16

Thus, John sees God cast "death" and "hades" into the lake of fire. However, God resurrects the unsaved from Hades before he does this. These two afflictions of humanity will no longer have the power to hold humans captive. Since John is seeing this in the eternal dimension it is possible that God literally throws these two concepts into the fire.

Finally, the punishment of the unsaved occurs. John states that those found guilty before God will be cast into the lake of fire. This truly will be a horrific event for those who reject God's Son as their Savior. This punishment is what Jesus came to save all these people from but now it will be too late.


Some people reject the idea that a God of love could send people to suffer in Hell for eternity. However, think about that conjecture. God so loved the world that God the Son died so that people wouldn't have to spend eternity separated from Him. He made a way for everyone to escape the flames of Hell. Yet some people do not want anything to do with God and His sacrifice for them. If they do not want to spend their earthly lives in fellowship with Him why would they want to spend their eternal lives with Him?

Which one of us would not rejoice to see the death of a dictator who was responsible for deaths of millions of people? Yet God, who is loving, declares:

"But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has

committed, and keep all My statutes, and do that which is

lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All

his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be

mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he has done

he shall live. As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no

pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked

turn from his way and live: turn you, turn you from your

evil ways."17


"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some

men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not

willing that any should perish, but that all should come to


God knows the horrors of Hell and does not wish any one of His creations to go there. Yet He gives humans the free will to choose where they want to spend eternity.

Some may say that the punishment doesn't fit the crime. Why should God punish the average human who tries to live a good life (although they will sin throughout their life) with the same punishment as Adolph Hitler?

At first glance it appears that people who believe that it would be unfair of God to send a person to Hell have a point. However, let me submit a question to you. Let's say that a person steals an item from a store. The police catch him and take him before a judge for a trial. The judge finds him guilty and sentences him to death. Would you say that the judge was unfair in his sentence? Indeed this judge ruled unfairly in this case. Therefore, if a person commits the sin of stealing isn't God also being unfair in sentencing them to Hell for eternity? The answer to this question is no. God is not sending them to Hell because they stole something. This crime is just a symptom of a deeper problem. That problem is the sin nature of human beings. As we read above all people have sinned and there is none righteous. In turn, our sinful nature is reflective of our rebellious nature toward God. Therefore, it is not because of any particular sin, great or small, that causes God to sentence us to Hell. Sin is an extension of our rebellion and separation from God. Our sinful natures will cause us to spend eternity in Hell. As the prophet Isaiah declares, sin separates us from God:

"Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot

save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your

iniquities have separated between you and your God, and

your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not


God is a consuming fire who consumes sin by His holy presence. Thus, those who die in their sins will be removed from His presence.

There are two deeper aspects to this issue that I believe will give you a better understanding of the justice of God in this matter.

The first is that Jesus indicated that there would be different degrees of punishment for unsaved people:

"But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and

Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And You,

Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven, shall be

brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have

been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have

remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be

more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of

judgment, than for you."20

Jesus was upbraiding the cities that He visited during His earthly ministry for not believing in Him. He had done mighty miracles before these people yet they had rejected Him as the Messiah. He states here that although the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were wicked, God will punish them less severely than He will the people of the towns that Jesus had visited. The Bible is unclear as to exactly how this occurs yet Jesus states that there will be different levels of punishment. God will punish those persons whose works were more evil than others more severely. God will not punish everyone with the exact same punishment.

The second aspect has to do with our lack of understanding the significance of the consequences of sin. Humans are finite beings who exist in the dimensions of space and time. With our limited minds we cannot understand how sin operates in the spiritual and eternal realms. We may consider an act that we commit as a little sin yet in the spiritual world it may have a more dreadful significance.

I mentioned above how the prophet Isaiah reacted when he saw his sins against the holiness of God. God had brought Isaiah into the eternal dimension and immediately Isaiah saw himself against the standard of God's perfection. He said, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."21 Isaiah was devastated by this experience, an experience that no other human being had ever had. He saw the true nature of sin in the eternal dimension. I believe that if God had asked Isaiah at that exact moment if He should send him to Hell because of his sins, Isaiah would have answered "Yes". He was distraught and could not cope with his sinfulness. If Isaiah, a great man of God, felt this way when confronted with his sin, how much more undone will the unsaved feel when they appear before God?

Therefore, what we finite humans may feel to be unfair by our standards in the temporal realm may seem extremely fair to us in the spiritual realm.

Our sins have such an impact in the spiritual realm that it appears Jesus will bear the marks of His crucifixion for eternity. After His resurrection He showed the disciples the marks in His hands and feet and side, which were made by the Roman nails and spear. Since this was Jesus' resurrected body it may very well be that He will carry them in His glorified body forever.

The Bible gives other examples of human actions on earth affecting the eternal, spiritual realm. Jesus described one such event after His disciples had returned from a missionary trip that He had sent them on:

"And the seventy [disciples] returned again with joy, saying,

Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Your

name. And He said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning

fall from heaven."22

Jesus had instructed His disciples to go throughout Israel preaching the gospel and healing the sick. They successfully carried out this mission and returned rejoicing. Jesus stated that because of their efforts He saw Satan fall from Heaven in the spiritual realm. The simple preaching of the gospel and the miraculous healing of the sick by humans had a tremendous effect in the eternal realm.

One other example of this takes place when a human receives the salvation offered through Jesus Christ:

"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over

one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine

just persons, which need no repentance...Likewise, I say

unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God

over one sinner that repents."23

The act of a human being accepting Jesus as their Savior, though done in the earthly realm, has an impact in the spiritual realm with eternal results.

Jesus raised the seriousness of sin in His Sermon on the Mount. He declared that God sees sin differently than humans do:

"You have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou

shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of

the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry

with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the

judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,

shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say,

You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."24


"You have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou

shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That

whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has

committed adultery with her already in his heart."25

In the first instance Jesus equates hatred of a fellow human being with the sin of murder. In the second passage He equates the act of lusting after another person with the actual act of adultery. We humans see hatred and lust as minor offenses yet God sees them as murder and adultery. This points out how sin in the temporal realm has a different, more significant aspect to it in the spiritual realm.

I do not believe that we are able to grasp the seriousness of our sins as they pertain to the eternal dimension. We may think that it is unfair of God to sentence a person to Hell because of their sins. However, we will not understand the significance or damage that is done in the eternal dimension by the sins we commit until we enter that dimension ourselves. Otherwise, we sit in judgment of God if we say that He is unfair for punishing people for eternity. God declares:

"Seek you the LORD while He may be found, call you upon Him

while He is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the

unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the

LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for

He will abundantly pardon. 'For My thoughts are not your

thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For

as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways

higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your


God, who dwells in all dimensions, is omniscient and infinite. Humans, who dwell in four dimensions, are finite and limited in their thoughts. We will not understand God's ways until we are with Him in eternity.


Many religions teach that Hell is a place of punishment. However, the Christian Bible describes this concept in its most graphic, terrifying terms. The primary source in the New Testament for the doctrine of Hell is Jesus Christ.

I mentioned in Chapter 11 that Jesus used the Greek word "gehenna" as a metaphor for the eternal flames of Hell. This word refers to the Valley of Hinnom outside the walls of Jerusalem. It was there that the Jerusalemites constantly burned their refuse. The Old Testament Hebrew equivalent for the word "gehenna" is "Gai Ben Hinnom" which is sometimes contracted to "Gai Hinnom".27 It means the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. However, the Jewish concept of Hell and the Christian concept of Hell differ in that the Jews believe that Hell is only a temporary place of punishment. The New Testament unequivocally states that punishment in Hell is for eternity.

Jesus used the term "gehenna" seven times in His teachings, some of which are repeated in the different Gospels:

"You have heard that it was said of them of old time, You

shall not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of

the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry

with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the

judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,

shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say,

You fool, shall be in danger of [gehenna] fire."

- Matthew 5:21-22

Jesus says that we should love our fellow human beings. Those who would belittle God's children by calling them fools are in danger of spending eternity in Hell. Of course, saying this would reflect the attitude that they have toward God Himself. Jesus associates the Greek word "puros", which means fire, with the word Hell.


"You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You

shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That

whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has

committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if

your right eye offends you, pluck it out, and cast it from

you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members

should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast

into [gehenna]. And if your right hand offends you, cut it

off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one

of your members should perish, and not that your whole

body should be cast into [gehenna]."

- Matthew 5:27-30

It would be a tragedy if someone took the words of Jesus here literally and actually maimed themselves to keep from sinning. What He is actually saying here is that it is so important, eternally important, that we turn from our sinful attitudes that if it were necessary, we should maim ourselves to accomplish this. Thankfully, it is not necessary. Accepting the forgiveness of Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit to guide us allows us to walk in His ways without taking such drastic measures. The alternative to heeding His warning is spending eternity in Hell.


"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 [gehenna]."

- Matthew 10:28

It is interesting that several times during Jesus' ministry He told the people to "fear not" and "be not afraid". Yet here He told them that Hell was something they should fear. The implication is that if a person does not fear God, and therefore lives a life of rebellion, then that person will spend eternity in Hell. One other noteworthy aspect to this saying of Jesus is the fact that there will not be disembodied souls or spirits suffering in Hell. Just as believers in Jesus receive an eternal, glorified body for their souls and spirits, so too will the unsaved have eternal bodies.


"And whoso shall receive one such little child in My name

receives Me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones

which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone

were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in

the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of

offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe

to that man by whom the offence comes! Wherefore if your

hand or your foot offends you, cut them off, and cast them

from you: it is better for you to enter into life halt or

maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be

cast into everlasting fire. And if your eye offends you, pluck

it out, and cast it from you: it is better for you to enter into

life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast

into [gehenna] fire."

- Matthew 18:5-9

Jesus declares here that anyone who causes a child to turn from God will regret it for eternity. Again, He states the importance of turning from a life of sin rather than spending eternity in Hell. Notice too that Jesus refers to Hell as everlasting fire.


"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you

travel around sea and land to make one proselyte, and

when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of

[gehenna] than yourselves."

- Matthew 23:15

"You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you

escape the damnation of [gehenna]?"

- Matthew 23:33

The harshest words that Jesus spoke while on the earth were to the religious leaders of His day. Instead of turning the people to the true worship of God they were placing all types of rules and regulations upon them. Instead of teaching the people to obey the commandments of God, the religious leaders were teaching them to obey their traditions. God will hold teachers accountable for the way they represent Him to the people.


There is no doubt that Jesus spoke of there being an eternal punishment for humans in a place called Hell. Though some have tried, there is absolutely no other way interpret His words. If Hell were not real, why would He tell people to fear it? Why would He tell people to seemingly maim themselves rather than enter into to Hell? Hell is a real place of suffering and torment and people who reject God will dwell there forever.

Where is Hell?

There is much speculation as to where the location of Hell is. I believe it is in a dimension different from the four we live in (height, width, length, which together equals "space" and the fourth one, which is time). Some physicists believe there might be ten dimensions and others believe there may be hundreds of dimensions. The Bible declares that God dwells in timeless eternity and therefore He exists in another dimension. Since Hell exists for eternity it must also be in the eternal dimension.

When God let John see the future described in the Book of Revelation, He showed Him Hell:

"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


John does not say where he was when he saw the lake of fire. He did say that the Devil and his cohorts would be tormented there forever. Hell is not a place of temporary punishment.

Personally, I don't want to know where Hell is nor do I desire to see anyone suffering there. But the Bible makes it clear that there will be people suffering there forever and ever.

A Living Hell

Thankfully, anyone who accepts the shed blood of Jesus' sacrificial death for their sins can spend eternity with God instead of with the Devil. However, there are going to be many people who lived on the earth during its long history who will no longer have a choice of where they spend eternity. The Book of Hebrews declares:

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this

the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins

of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear

the second time without sin unto salvation."

- Hebrews 9:27-28

There will be no second chance after a person dies. The Bible does not teach the doctrines of reincarnation or purgatory. If a person rejects God in this life, God will reject them in the next.

The tragic part is that God did not create Hell as a place of punishment for His human creations. Jesus stated:

"Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart

from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the

devil and his angels."29

God's plan was to punish the Devil and his angelic followers who rebelled against Him by sending them to Hell for eternity. However, when humans rebelled against God, He declared that they too would be punished in Hell forever.

John wrote in Revelation who will go to Hell:

"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life

was cast into the lake of fire."30

In chapter 21 of Revelation, John describes the Book of Life as referring to the saving work of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ:

"And there shall in no wise enter into it [i.e., New Heaven]

any thing that defiles, neither whatsoever works

abomination, or makes a lie: but they which are written in

the Lamb's book of life."31

Anyone who has not been saved by accepting the shed blood of Jesus Christ's sacrificial death, which is the only sacrifice that can take away their sins, will be cast into Hell. When a person accepts Jesus as their Savior then their name is in the Book of Life. If a person refuses Jesus as their Savior then their name is not in the Book of Life and they will suffer in Hell for eternity.

There is a religious sect32 that rejects the concept of Hell and denies that any unsaved persons will suffer punishment forever. They believe that those whom God does not choose for salvation will become non-existent rather than suffer for eternity. As we have read this is contradictory to the plain teachings of the Bible.

Those who end up in Hell will be alive and in torment forever. Jesus declared that nothing dies in Hell and the fire is everlasting:

"And if your hand offends you cut it off: it is better for you

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."33

"Then shall He say also unto them on the left hand, Depart

from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the

devil and his angels...And these shall go away into

everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life


Not even the worms will die in the fires of Hell. Jesus says that those who reject God will suffer everlasting punishment. If the fire consumed them as soon as they entered Hell then their punishment would not be everlasting. If they became non-existent they would not know that God was punishing them. Also, if all the unsaved immediately cease to exist in Hell, why then is it necessary for the fire to be "everlasting"?

John also described the punishment of Hell as lasting for eternity:

"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud

voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and

receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same

shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is

poured out without mixture into the cup of His indignation;

and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the

presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the

Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever

and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship

the beast and his image, and whosoever receives the mark

of his name."35

John heard the angel declare that the punishment of those who worship the Devil and his Antichrist will be suffering forever. The unsaved will have no rest day or night for eternity. He later describes the types of persons who will end up suffering in Hell:

"And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all

things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words

are true and faithful. And He said unto me, It is done. I am

Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give

unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life

freely. He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will

be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, and

unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and

whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars,

shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and

brimstone: which is the second death."36

The horror of Hell is unimaginable to our finite minds. However, I believe there will be a worse pain than that caused by the flames. Jesus made an intriguing statement when He spoke in a parable about the punishment that awaits the unsaved:

"And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness:

there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."37

Although this verse is part of a parable I believe that Jesus is stating a truth about eternal punishment. The next verse after this one starts the description of the judgment of the sheep and the goats and the punishment meted out to the people by Jesus Christ. Here He describes the place of punishment as "outer darkness". Whether this is part of the different degrees or levels of punishment that I mentioned above is unclear. It could also be that once a person is thrown into the lake of fire, they descend into darkness beneath the surface. If so, I believe that these tormented souls will no longer be able to feel the presence of God.

Even in the fallen world we live in now we can still feel God's presence. We may not know that it is His presence we are feeling but nonetheless it is here. Those in Hell may suffer most by not being able to sense God anywhere around them. This will lead to an unimaginable loneliness that will cause them to weep and grind their teeth (an allusion to the physical bodies that will exist in eternity).

I have heard people say that they are going to "party" in Hell with their friends. As you have just read, Hell will be anything but a party. On the contrary, Hell is a real, living horror that we humans cannot comprehend. Mercifully, God has made a way for His human creations to escape the fires of Hell. He did this by coming down in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, and suffering Himself by dying for the sins of humanity:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only

begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not

perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son

into the world to condemn the world; but that the world

through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is

not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned

already, because he hath not believed in the name of the

only begotten Son of God."38

Fire and Brimstone

I wrote at the beginning of this chapter that the concept of Hell has always scared me. As I wrote this last section on Hell, I realized this concept still puts the fear of God in me. Some people believe that modern-day preachers should not preach on the subject of Hell. I strongly disagree with this assertion for the simple fact that people should know what awaits them if they continue rejecting the truth of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

The New Testament writer Jude, possibly a brother of Jesus, also states that preaching Hell needs to be done in some cases:

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy

of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some

have compassion, making a difference: And others save

with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the

garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto Him that is able to

keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before

the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To the only

wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and

power, both now and ever. Amen."39

Jude says that we can save some persons by showing them the compassion and mercy of God. However, he states that others need to be saved by putting the fear of God in them and thereby "pulling them out of the fire".


If after reading this chapter you are unsure of where you will spend eternity, please go to the Chapter 19 in this book. There I will tell how you can be saved from an eternity of Hell and instead experience an unimaginable joy for eternity in Heaven. After you have read that chapter return to the next chapter. There I will discuss what the Bible has to say about what awaits us when we will be with the Almighty God who created us forever and ever.


1     Isaiah 64:6

2     I Corinthians 13:1-3

3     I John 4:16

4     Romans 3:9-12, 23

5     John 6:28-29

6     Ephesians 2:8-9

7     Titus 3:3-7

8     I John 2:1

9     Hebrews 12:29

10    Isaiah 6:1-7

11    John 8:23-24

12    Hebrews 10:26-31

13    Genesis 5:21-24

14    Revelation 20:14-15

15    Luke 16:19-24

16    Ephesians 4:8-10

17    Ezekiel 18:21-23

18    II Peter 3:9

19    Isaiah 59:1-2

20    Matthew 11:22-24

21    Isaiah 6:5

22    Luke 10:17-18

23    Luke 15:7,10

24    Matthew 5:21-22

25    Matthew 5:27-28

26    Isaiah 55:6-9

27    Joshua 18:16; II Chronicles 28:3, 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31-32, 19:2-6

28    Revelation 20:10

29    Matthew 25:41

30    Revelation 20:15

31    Revelation 21:27

32    Charles Taze Russell founded a religious movement that would become

       the Jehovah Witnesses. Because he couldn't reconcile the idea of the

       mercy of God with the punishment of God, Russell rejected the concept of

       Hell. This rejection is continued by the modern day Jehovah Witnesses.

33    Mark 9:43-44

34    Matthew 25:41,46

35    Revelation 14:9-11

36    Revelation 21:5-8

37    Matthew 25:30

38    John 3:16-18

39    Jude 21-25

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