Hell Is Not Just A Four Letter Word

How many times a week, nay, a day do you hear the word “hell” used as an epithet?  In the current vernacular it seems that this word is used in many different ways.  It is used as a curse and it is used as a point of emphasis.  It is even used as an interrogative but very seldom is it used as what it truly is, i.e. a place or a destination.  Yet, this is a word that denotes that very thing.  It is a word that has been corrupted and compromised throughout the centuries and now we fail to recognize it for what it is.  It is a warning.

I had the opportunity to attend a concert recently where the Beatles’ song “Imagine” was played.  You may remember that some of the lyrics to that particular song state:


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today


Falling in line with that reasoning and contrary to the Biblical record, there are those who dispute the existence of hell.  They want to dismiss the idea of an actual “hell” as a place of torment.  They will not confront what Jesus taught about hell as a place created for those who are separated from God.  The fact of the matter is that Jesus said more about hell than He did about heaven during His ministry on earth.  While the idea of “hell fire and brimstone preaching” has largely fallen into disrepute in many circles, it is still important to understand what the Bible says about it.

Jesus gave a detailed explanation of life after death when He spoke about the beggar, Lazarus, and the rich man.  In this particular story He vividly illustrated the difference between the existence to come for those who sought after God and those who did not while they were alive.


Luke 16:19-26

** New International Version

King James Version

19 "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' 25 "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'


19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 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; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 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. 25 But Abraham said, 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. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.



In verse 23 the word “hell” is actually translated as haides meaning properly, unseen, i.e. "Hades" or the place (state) of departed souls or the grave, hell.  (NT:86, Strong's Greek-Hebrew Dictionary).  With Hades as being the place for departed souls, I contend that it is the holding place for the unsaved dead until the Great White Throne Judgment but that it is still a place of torment.  What we learn from this particular passage is that it is separated from Abraham’s bosom or paradise by a great distance and a great chasm.  It is a place of torment for the unsaved due in at least in part to the presence of fire.  There is no water available to provide any relief from the torment.  Finally, it is impossible for those on one side of the chasm to pass to the other side; in other words, separation is complete and permanent.

In explaining the parable of the weeds Jesus went into detail about the judgment to come and the eternal destiny of those who were not identified with the Kingdom of God.


Matthew 13:37-42

** New International Version

King James Version

37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 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. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


37 He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.




The end of the world is coming and when it does, those who are the “sons of the evil [wicked] one” will be gathered together just like the weeds or tares at harvest time and will be burned in the fiery furnace where there will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth.”  Make not mistake about it, Jesus Christ clearly taught that there are eternal consequences for those who reject the grace of God.  Those consequences are severe and this passage teaches that the consequences will be ongoing, i.e. wailing and gnashing of teeth implies that this torment does not abate.


The 25th Chapter of the Book of Matthew teaches that hell is a place of eternal darkness and torment; it is a place of intense agony (Verse 30).  Further, hell was not created for man and it is not God’s desire that any person go there.  Instead, it is a place of eternal torment created for Satan and the fallen angelic beings who chose to follow him (Verse 41).  Finally, it is eternal; it is everlasting; it is forever (Verse 46).


Matthew 25:30,41,46

** New International Version

King James Version

30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' * * *

41 "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. * * *

46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. * * * 

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: * * *

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.




Jesus emphasized the fact that the ultimate goal was to enter into the kingdom of heaven and to avoid the pit of hell.  He illustrated the importance of seeking eternal life by referring to the sacrifice of one’s actual physical body.  In a culture that was dependent upon an individual’s ability to physically provide for himself and his family, this illustration was a vivid reminder that even physical needs and abilities were inferior to the needs of the spirit.


Matthew 18:8-9

** New International Version

King James Version

8 If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.


8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.



36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36).


Unfortunately, there are those who live under the delusion that they are destined for the kingdom of heaven.  They are attempting to work their way into heaven betting on a very common misconception; that misconception is that eternal life is for sale.  It can be bought with good deeds.  Many people believe that so long as they live a good life, so long as their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds on the eternal scales of justice, so long as they are considered to be a “good” person, they will make it into heaven.  God will somehow set aside His sense of holy righteousness and judgment and permit them to enter into His kingdom.  Jesus made it clear that this was a fallacy.   


Matthew 7:21-23

** New International Version

King James Version

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'


21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.



Wow!  That doesn’t seem exactly fair, does it?  I admit, at first blush, it does not.  However, pay attention to what Jesus is saying.  He is saying that there will be those who will have prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles in His name but that He will have never known them.  Additionally, this passage makes it clear that even when these individuals are doing these things in the name of Jesus, they are not doing the will of God.  Could it be inferred that these people are using the name of Jesus improperly?  Does it mean that they are possibly using the name of Jesus for profit?  Are they using the name of Jesus to further their own goals and ambitions?  The end result, if this is true, is that they are cast out due to the fact that Jesus never knew them.


It is prophesied that many will come to worship the mark the beast during the period known as the Tribulation.  This period, according to those who adhere to the pre-Tribulation view of the rapture, will take place for a period of seven years following the signing of the treaty which guarantees Israel’s peace.  When these take the mark of the beast and worship his image, their eternal destiny is determined. 


Revelation 14:9-11

** New International Version

King James Version

9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, 10 he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."


9 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, 10 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: 11 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.


This idea of experiencing the wrath of God and departing into eternal torment is frightening.  How sad it is to hear people profess that they are destined for hell where they will be with their friends.  They seem to have no concept of what it will be like to reject the grace of God given to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Ultimately, the time will come when a person’s eternal destination will be determined.  When that time comes, there will be no turning back.  If one has not repented and called upon Jesus to come into his life (John 3:16), all will be lost.


Revelation 20:15

** New International Version

King James Version

15 If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


Let me emphasize that hell was not created for man; it was created for Satan and his minions.  Let me also emphasize that God does not send anyone to hell; quite to the contrary, God calls out to everyone to come to salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  If that is the case, as I believe it is, then it is man who sends himself to hell.  Hell is a very real place and it is a place that God has shown man on this earth.


Jude 6-7

** New International Version

King James Version

6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.


6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.



Sodom and Gomorrah are the example.  They were utterly and totally destroyed by God.  It rained down fire and brimstone (or burning sulphur) from heaven completely consuming everything and everyone who resided there.  Their sin was so great that God decided to eradicate them from the face of the earth.  Similarly, those who are consigned to hell because they reject Jesus Christ will be subjected to the same fate except they will not be consumed.  Their torment will last for all eternity.

I know that many people are turned off by preachers who try to scare them into making a decision for Christ but the fact of the matter is that there are eternal consequences for man’s actions (or inactions).  It is sort of like that line uttered by Russell Crowe portraying the character Maximus in the movie, Gladiator:  “What you do today echoes in eternity.”  If you believe in eternity and the idea of heaven, then you had better believe in hell as a place that is just as real.  Jesus spoke more about hell than He did heaven.  He must have thought that it was important or He would not have spent so much time addressing it.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:8-10.  Good works, not because we need them to get into heaven but because we love our Creator and desire to serve Him.  Salvation by grace – not because we deserve it but because God desired it. 

** A modern language quote is provided for readability together with the accompanying KJV version which is believed by many to be a more accurate representation of the original scripture.

Comments or questions may be directed to the author at info@rapturenext.com.