This message is the third in our continuing sermon series titled “Heaven and Hell”. In this series we are studying the Biblical teachings on these two destinies. We started this collection of messages by examining the doctrine of Hell, and will resume that discussion today. Before we launch into this morning’s message, let take a moment to review what we’ve learned so far.
Hell is a literal place that Jesus spoke often about. There is approximately 3 times more content in the Bible about Hell than there is about Heaven.
Hell is described as a place of unquenchable fire, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the undying worm. It is a place of unimaginable suffering and torment.
Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment. Infinite punishment is the only just sentence for those who’ve rejected an infinitely good and righteous Savior.
This morning we will resume our analysis of Hell and consider a few more pertinent questions. First of all, where is Hell? Does the Bible give us any indication? Secondly, who all will be in Hell? Will it just be unsaved people, or will there be others there? Let’s delve into the Scriptures and see what they say...
8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.) - Ephesians 4:8-10
15 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! - Luke 10:15
Many people believe that Hell is located at below the ground, at the center of the earth. The Bible describes Hell as a bottomless pit or abyss. It is called the “lower parts of the earth”, a place where Jesus “descended” for a brief time following the crucifixion. To descend means to go down, which again seems to indicate that Hell is below the ground. The fire and brimstone of Hell would be consistent with this theory, seeing that the center of the earth is made up of molten rock heated to over 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Further perpetuating this belief, numerous reports have been made over the years from those who study and/or have visited volcanoes. There are several documented instances of people hearing what sounded like screaming and wailing coming forth from the mouths of volcanoes. Could it be that these were the cries of people suffering in Hell below? I suppose that it’s possible...
While this is one proposal for the location of Hell, there are others. Some suggest that it is a black hole, somewhere in distant space, where no light can escape. This would fit the description of “outer darkness” that we discussed earlier in this series. Some say that the earth itself, after being destroyed with fire, will become the final location of Hell. These theories are all merely speculation. The Bible does not definitively tell us where Hell is, but wherever it is we sure don’t want to be there!
41 “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; - Matthew 25:41
20 And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. - Revelation 19:20
18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. - John 3:18
Hell was originally created as a place in which to confine and punish the devil and his angels. The torments of Hell were intended particularly for them. It is important to realize that Satan and his demons will suffer there under the judgment of God. The Devil will not be the ruler in Hell, or have any dominion there at all. He will not be exempt from its misery. He will endure the eternal wrath and fury of the LORD’s divine justice along with everyone else.
In addition to Satan and the fallen angels, the Bible states that the beast and false prophet will also be consigned to Hell. In the last days, during a period known as the Tribulation, the Antichrist will rise to worldwide prominence and lead many astray. His counterpart, the False Prophet, will assist him in this mass deception. During this time, God will send forth severe judgment upon the earth. At the conclusion of the Tribulation, Jesus will return and the beast (the Antichrist) and the false prophet will be thrown into Hell.
Although Hell was intended for the Devil and his angels, unfortunately there will be millions of unsaved people there too. Those who have not accepted Jesus and received forgiveness for their sins will also be condemned to Hell. The sin of unbelievers separates them from God and necessitates His righteous judgment. Though it is not God’s desire for any person to end up in Hell, the sad reality is that many will. Thus, Hell will be occupied by the Devil, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, all of the demons, and all unsaved people.
8 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
10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. - Revelation 14:10
7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. - Psalm 139:7-8
Hell is a place where sinners are imprisoned “away from the presence of the Lord”. They are separated from the glory of God. Yet, one of the divine characteristics of the LORD is His omnipresence. The Bible teaches that God is present everywhere and that there is no place where one can flee from Him. The Bible teaches that even those in Hell will be tormented in the presence of the Lamb and the holy angels. So which is it? How can those in Hell be both separated from God’s presence and in His presence at the same time?
In the original manuscripts, two different Greek words are used in the verses cited above that both translate “presence”. One of these directly refers to physical spatial proximity. The other concerns a person’s face or outward appearance. The expression shown on a person’s face is generally a reflection of what they are thinking or how they are acting. For example, if someone was extremely happy there would likely be a smile “present” on their face.
When understood in this fashion, there is no contradiction in Scripture. The LORD is spatially present in Hell, but His abundant goodness and mercy are not present in His expression to those held there. In other words, Hell is a place where the favor of God is totally absent. Those confined in Hell are completely separated from God’s lovingkindness and fellowship, but are fully acquainted with His wrath and justice. In this way, those in Hell experience separation from God’s grace while simultaneously suffering in His presence.
God’s Word does not definitively say where Hell is, but it does clearly list those who will go there. Fortunately, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and personal Savior you have nothing to fear. Those who have repented of their sins, surrendered their life to the Lord, and received the forgiveness He offers will be saved. This is the simple, yet powerful truth of the gospel.
Wherever Hell is, I know that I’m not going there because I’ve been born again. I have confidence that God’s grace is sufficient for me, and this gives me cause for great joy. That said, I suspect that many people I know are going to Hell. This fact makes me incredibly sad. But the question is, what will I do about it? Will I sound the alarm and warn my lost family and friends of the looming judgment? What about you?