Does Hell Exist and Is it Eternal?

Introduction

Flames of Hell

The question is sometime asked, “Does hell exist?” When answered in the positive, there is usually a follow up question the impugns the character of God.

“If God is a kind, loving, and merciful god, how is it possible that He could possibly allow man to suffer eternal condemnation in hell? How could He allow man to be separated from Him for eternity?” The best way to answer the question is by doing a word search on the word “hell” and other related words. Then we can draw conclusions based on the sum of these verses. Of course, each verse must be interpreted consistently in its context. Therefore, the goal of this article will be to collect and study some of the more conclusive and relevant passages regarding hell. Specifically we are going to look at the ones which relate to the question of hell’s existence and duration.

What Is “Hell”?

Most people are familiar with the idea of hell being a place of eternal punishment, reserved for the wicked. However, it is essential that we turn to the Bible to refine this idea, because the Bible truth is the ultimate reality.

Jesus spoke of the danger of “hell fire” (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:43-48), which condemnation is depicted in the symbolic account of Judgment Day:
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12-15).

One of the many points gleaned from these passages is that hell, vividly illustrated as a “lake of fire”, is an undesirable, tortuous place to spend eternity. A second observation is that the basis for this judgment was how they lived their lives – “his works”. However, this passage does not speak of the duration of this punishment. Is it possible that this judgment is temporary? Is the condemnation eternal?

The Duration of Hell

Once again, we should turn to the pages of God’s message for us to learn the answers to our questions.
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels…These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:41, 46).

“…in flaming fire,dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Also, the account in Revelation speaks of the “lake of fire and brimstone” as being a place of eternal torment (Revelation 20:10). Although some of these verses speak of the fire being eternal or everlasting, other verses, such as Matthew 25:46, clearly speak of the punishment itself being eternal. Therefore, it seems that if condemned to hell, one’s judgment would be forever. A natural question would be to wonder if a kind and loving God could sentence any man to eternity in hell. Would God actually do this? Would He issue an eternal condemnation to hell and everlasting separation from Him?

The Possibility of Eternity in Hell

Although it seems clear that God has constructed a place of eternal torment and punishment, the question may yet arise, “Is it possible that God would actually condemn someone to hell?” The answer is provided in the verses that we have already observed. Jesus warned of the danger of “hell fire” (Matthew 5:22; Mark 9:43-48). One necessary inference is; there must be a real possibility each of us could be condemned to hell, else there is no real danger. Would God make empty threats? Would a divine and loving Father warn of things that pose no danger? Clearly, No! The danger is real, unless we are willing to second-guess everything that Jesus said, including the promise of heaven (John 14:2-3).

Sadly, not only does the Bible outline the possibility of condemnation in hell, but it further states that the majority of people will end up there!
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Once we reach the unseen realm of the dead, there is no way to “cross sides”. In fact, the Bible symbolically speaks of a “great gulf” that separates the two realms of the dead (Luke 16:19-31). After we die, the next fate-determining event is judgment day (Hebrews 9:27). And as we have previously seen, that judgment is final and the majority of people will find themselves condemned.

Yet someone may ask, “But, how can God let this happen? How can He be a kind and loving god and let any member of His creation spend eternity in hell?”

A Kind and Loving God

It is not God’s wish for anyone of his creation to be lost because of their sins:
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Elsewhere, we are told that the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering is leading us to repentance (Romans 2:4) . Therefore, God is kind, loving, and does not want anyone to be perish. Consequently, He is diligently seeking the repentance of all of mankind over all time. Sadly, as we have already seen (Matthew 7:13-14), many have and will reject His gracious opportunity to repent and be forgiven.

“The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).

Despite our desires and the will of society that such a judgment scene not occur, we cannot change it. And we should we ignore that a “separation” will occur upon that day (Matthew 25:31-46). This division of all people will be based upon our actions (2 Corinthians 5:10). On that day, the Lord will bless many with eternal life in heaven with God. But He will also reward many more with eternity in hell (Matthew 25:31-46).

As a kind and loving God, He has desperately tried to help mankind repent. But as a just God, He cannot allow willfully, disobedient, and unrepentant people to populate His holy abode. Eventually, His mercy reaches a limit, until there is no longer a remedy – by man’s choice.

Conclusion

The idea of hell is a powerful motivating force that encourages us to obey God. It is not the most noble motivation. However, it reaches the most selfish heart and makes it receptive to the high and transcendent motivations of love and gratitude. We should never deceive ourselves into believing the common notion that we are in no danger of “hell fire”. As we have seen, hell is a real danger and an eternal punishment that awaits the disobedient. Sadly, many people will find themselves there. Dear reader, please do not let this fate befall you. Continue your quest for truth and learn God’s will for you, so that you may be saved from hell.

  • For further study: Please read more passages regarding the danger and duration of hell:
  • Proverbs 27:20
  • Matthew 10:28
  • Mark 3:29
  • 2 Peter 2:4, 17
  • Jude 6-13

Marriage Vows or What God Joined Together

or What God Joined Together

Marriage and the marriage vows are something that should never be taken lightly. What happens when two people come together under the idea of marriage? They stand before a man to recite wedding vows to each other. But, what does this mean? Consider if you will, the words both the male and female make: “Will you take this woman/man to be your lawfully wedded wife/husband, to live together in holy matrimony? Will you love her/him, comfort her/him, honor her/him, and keep her/him in sickness and in health…, forsaking all others for as long as you both shall live? Will you take to yourself to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, and to love and cherish each other till death do you part?”

Your Marriage Vows are before God, do you mean it?

When two people repeat their wedding vows, those involved in that marriage make this promise to each other and to God. They promise they will be together forever. However, far too many times, this is far from the truth. Separations occur and eventually divorce comes (annulments included).  But what is divorce? Obtaining a divorce is a legal (by man’s standards) dissolution of a marriage. It is a ceasing, a breaking of promises, to let go, or to release from bonds that terminates a marriage. But what is ceasing? However, what are things that break in divorce? Could we say that we are breaking two hearts in a marriage or breaking a family into jagged pieces? But what are we letting go? Could it be the bond that was first made on the wedding day between each other and between God? But, why the release?

Did not Jesus say to the Pharisees who came tempting Him with questions on divorce that, “…a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (Matt. 19:5)? Two lives join into one. Therefore, the bond of husband and wife is stronger than that between children and parents. And, to be as one means that they are to be the only ones together. Yet, if this is true, then what comes in between them? It should be said that when something comes in between the one flesh, it must be a painful experience seeing as how pain always comes when something is inserted between flesh. With a marriage, this insertion is planned and cannot happen by accident and once it is between flesh, it separates it and divorce is seen shortly down the road.

Marriage Vows Combine Two as One

Jesus said, “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Now, what could be so forceful that it could separate flesh? Perhaps a friend? Maybe they just drive each other crazy. Perhaps they are just not compatible. Jesus again speaking said to the Pharisees, “whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality (fornication), and marries another woman commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).

What is fornication? It is illicit sexual intercourse. It is sexual intercourse whether it is with a man, woman, homosexual, lesbian, animal, etc. Jesus said that for this reason only can one divorce. Why? It is because sexual intercourse breaks the one flesh into two. Also, because there is a foreign flesh attempting to rip part of the flesh from the rest. It is because it breaks the covenant relationship between man and woman. In addition, it breaks the covenant relationship with God because once you are in a marriage, you are commanded by God to keep it (Rom. 7:2).

Men can attempt to justify this by saying that the laws of the land permit other actions. Well, so did the laws of the land in Jesus’ day (Matt. 19:1-9). But just because it is a law of the land, does not give us a right to violate God’s law. The apostles, which were led directly by the Holy Spirit said, “. . . We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Therefore, if God defines what a marriage is and what it is not and defines the reason to end a marriage, we must obey God rather than man for only God can dissolve a marriage.

Divorce Means Ignoring Your Promise to God

Divorce that comes outside of fornication, happens when men forget God (Rom. 1:18-32), when they forget His word (Psa. 119:11), and when they want to do what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). May we each do the will of the Father (Matt. 7:21-23).

Brotherly Kindness and its Importance

Brotherly Kindness

Brotherly kindness is a topic that must never become stale or outdated. The bonds of kindness that exist between Christian brothers and sisters is one of the clearest testimonies that we are in fellowship with God. “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). One of the best Biblical texts dealing with the importance of brotherly kindness is 1 John 4:7-21. In this article we’ll examine some of what this text teaches us regarding brotherly kindness.

Brotherly Kindness Shows That We Are God’s Children

First, brotherly kindness shows us that we are true children of God (1 John 4:7-8). God is the definition of love. He is the source of love. From God we learn that love is not mere sentiment but involves an act of the will. Love is a verb. God not only told us of His love, but He showed it in His divine act of love (cf. vv. 9-11). “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16, cf. John 3:16 & Rom. 5:6-8). For Christians, brotherly kindness should certainly be spoken, but what is most important is that this kindness is shown in deeds. Can we say that we are God’s children? We can if we have brotherly kindness one for another and if it is shown in our deeds.

Fellowship With God

Secondly, brotherly kindness brings us into fellowship with God (vv. 12-16). Of course, we cannot fellowship God as we do each other for God is not visible to us (v. 12, cf. John 1:18). However, when brotherly kindness abides within our hearts, then God abides in us through His Holy Spirit. It is impossible for one to say he has fellowship with God when he does not have kindness in his heart for his brothers and sisters in Christ. It is just as likely for an unloving person to be a child of God as it is for a fig tree to bear olives (cf. James 3:9-12). Just as Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:34-35), so the world will know that we are not only disciples but also God’s children through our brotherly kindness.

Boldness and Confidence Before God

Finally, brotherly kindness gives us confidence in our standing before God. Many are unsure of their standing with God and face the idea of judgment with trembling uncertainty. Such need not be the case. Why? The answer is simply this. In brotherly kindness, we are as He is and as such, we are confident of our sonship. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). This knowledge that we are as He is comes from the love that we have for one another in our hearts. Those who still live in fear of judgment show that God’s love is not fully developed in their hearts (v. 18).

Brotherly Kindness Is NOT Optional

Brotherly kindness is NOT optional. Some live with self-deception. John gives a stern warning. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). Hate is a strong word. What is hate? It is no more, nor any less than the absence of love. For the true Christian, brotherly kindness is not optional. It is not something about which he can have a “take it or leave it” attitude.

Let us show brotherly kindness to one another! Love is of God. He is the source, definition and supreme example such. With brotherly kindness I leave “church going” behind and live as a true and authentic Christian and have bold confidence in my standing before God. Without this kindness, my “church going” and sacramental observances are nothing more than a hypocritical sham.

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Are You Listening?

Several years ago, I was at a truck stop in Las Vegas, NV and woke up not feeling well.

After attending to necessities, I walked into the restaurant and took a seat at one of the tables. In just a few moments, a server passed by on her way to another table. She did speak though. She said, “How are you this morning?” My response was “terrible” because as I have said, I did not feel well.

Without slowing down, she continued heading to the next table. However, she did respond to my comment. She said, “That’s good.” In her defense, she did come by later and question what I had said and apologized for her response.

However, the above story illustrates the fact many times, people aren’t really listening. Either they’ve already made up their minds what they’re going to say, or they’re not truly interested in what someone else is saying. Amazingly, even those who claim to be students of the Bible are guilty of this. Yet, the Bible has a lot to say about listening. Consider these passages.

Wisdom personified as a woman calls for people to listen to her advice. She said, “Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth” (Prov. 5:7).

Solomon advises young people to listen to their parents’ counsel. “A wise son accepts his father’s discipline, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke” (Prov. 13:1).

Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God speaks to his people through the prophets, begging them to listen to his instructions and warnings. “Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, You who have been borne by Me from birth And have been carried from the womb” (Isa. 46:3).

God very forcefully made it clear that Jesus was now the authority to which one is to listen: “…This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5)!

Jesus often began his sermons or parables with an instruction to listen. “After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, ‘Listen to Me, all of you, and understand’” (Mark 7:14).

In the letters written to the churches in Revelation 2-3, Jesus said, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

James said that we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19). Unfortunately, the reverse is usually true. We’re usually slow to listen and quick to speak which directly impacts our anger. So many situations and feelings of frustration and anger could be avoided by just listening.

When it comes to our relationship with others, it’s critical we show them enough respect to listen to them. They have something to say, and they’re important. Paul advised that we consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3-4), and that includes listening to what they have to say.

Many arguments are based upon misunderstanding; therefore, it pays to listen. By listening, we can come to understand the other person. It may be that you thought one thing, but the other person said something else. Listening gives insight into the other person and will prevent many misunderstandings and poor judgments.

Listening also helps to control emotions. Being quiet and hearing the other person can help in keeping your anger in check. Move and speak slowly and deliberately instead of giving in to the heat of passion.

And when it comes to our relationship with God, it’s critical that we listen with the intention of acting upon his instructions. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives an analogy of listen with the intent of obeying or listening without hearing (Matt. 7:24-27).

It does us no good if we hear what Jesus says but don’t obey.

Listening is a lost art among many. May it not be the case with us.