It’s no secret that contemplating or discussing hell is, well, unpleasant. The vast majority of us would prefer not to deal with it at all, and so we often choose to do so.
In The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis writes that if he could eliminate any doctrine from Christianity, it would be hell.
It’s difficult to broach the subject of hell in the Bible. It has led some people to doubt God and even abandon their faith altogether. What does the Bible have to say about eternal punishment?
What Takes Place After Death?
It is clear from Romans 3:23 that all people are guilty before a holy God because of their sinful nature. But John 3:16-17 reveals that God intervened to save humans from this doomed destiny, provided they put their faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ (John 20:31), who is God incarnate (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1-3; John 1:14).
This deliverance isn’t mandatory but rather acquired freely by grace via faith. And the Bible teaches that if someone dies without having trust in God, their sin has already sentenced them to hell.
After death, the Bible does not indicate that a person has any further chances to be saved (Hebrews 9:27). In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus provided a parable that exemplifies this. The gap separating heaven and hades (literally, “place of the dead”) is described as “great” in verse 26 and is “set in place” so that nothing may pass between the two places.
What is Hell in the Scriptures?
God’s Word is reliable in its warnings about hell, which are characterized by vivid descriptions of eternal punishment that include darkness, gnashing of teeth, fire, and eternal isolation from God.
Many descriptions of a “land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder” may be found in the book of Job, which is recognized as the oldest book in the Bible (Job 10:21-22).
Other parts of the book of Job refer to a “realm of darkness” (Job 17:13) and even a “day of darkness” (Job 15:23), which might mean continuing misery on earth or a day of judgment followed by endless torment in hell. Both scenarios are possible. These verses include early descriptions of what people believed to be the afterlife and where the deceased went after death.
Our hope here, found in the Lord, is stated in John 12:46: “I have come into the world as a light so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness”
Gnashing of Teeth
Jesus was the only person in the Bible who discussed hell more frequently than anybody else. He frequently cautioned others to stay away from this terrifying place by utilizing the graphic term “gnashing,” which may be defined as “biting” or “grinding” (Strong’s 1030).
During his explanation of the Parable of the Weeds to his followers, Jesus employs the word “gnashing of teeth.” Specifically, he says:
“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 13:41-43)
However, we may seek the light of the Lord’s salvation:
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Isaiah foretold an area of “unquenchable fire” in the Old Testament.
“And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24)
The idea that Gehenna is an abode of eternal torment developed from this verse, according to the Cambridge commentary.
Valley of Hinnom (Strong’s 1067) in Hebrew is the location where ancient people of this country sacrificed children to the deity Molek; the Greek translation of this name is Gehenna (Leviticus 18:21). People burned rubbish and garbage in the desecrated region outside of Jerusalem — thus a land of unquenchable and perpetual fire.
Hope can be found in Christ to combat the eternal heat that comes from the unquenchable fires of hell:
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
The State Of Alienation From God
Another biblical concept for hell has no direct earthly equivalent. Because God’s grace is extended to everyone, including the unchurched.
The Bible says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). In addition, Jesus declared that God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35). Why? Because as Romans 2:4 asserts, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.”
However, keep in your heart that: “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)
The opportunity for repentance is available to everyone while they are still on Earth. Those who reject God’s gift of salvation will spend all of the eternity estranged from God and his love, peace, and harmony.
How Do We Avoid An Eternity In Hell
You don’t need to worry so much about eternal damnation as you would assume. It is the firm belief of some that one must live by the Ten Commandments to avoid punishment in hell. Some individuals think that to avoid damnation, they must do particular rites and rituals.
Some individuals argue that there is no definitive way to determine if we are destined for hell. This is a completely incorrect set of assumptions. The Bible makes it quite plain how one might avoid eternal punishment in hell.
How then will we avoid eternal damnation? Since nothing short of eternal punishment will do, nothing less than an unlimited and eternal ransom will do. Jesus Christ is the incarnate Son of God (John 1:1, 14). God became man in Jesus Christ to teach and cure us, but that wasn’t His ultimate goal.
To save sinners like us, God took on human flesh and died on the cross. The incarnate God Jesus was sacrificed on the cross. Because He is God, His sacrifice for sin was of immeasurable and eternal worth (1 John 2:2).
God extends an invitation for us to embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior and to believe that His death on the cross was sufficient to compensate for our sins. For those who put their faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16) and rely on Him alone as their Savior (John 14:6), God guarantees salvation (i.e., an escape from eternal punishment in hell).
God despises the idea of someone being damned to eternal torture (2 Peter 3:9). Consequently, God offered a sacrifice that was complete, pure, and perfect in our stead. A person must accept Jesus as their Savior to avoid eternal punishment in hell.
Everything boils down to that. Admit to God that you are a sinner who should be punished eternally in hell. Make it known to God that you have put your faith in Jesus Christ to save you. In all humility, give thanks to God for rescuing you from eternal damnation. The only way to escape eternal punishment is to put your faith and confidence in Jesus Christ.
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