Is There Such a Thing as an Eternal Hell?
Rev. 20:14,15 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, 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.
Romans 2:5-11 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who be perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.
Acts 17:30,31 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man who He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
The Scriptures are very clear that after the great judgment of all mankind, all those who are not in the book of life, will be thrown into hell.
The book of life is God’s record of all those who are in Christ Jesus. When the disciples marveled that they had power over demonic forces, Jesus said, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” [Luke 10:20]
Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” [John 8:24]
What is Hell?
It is that most awesome and terrible place of God’s wrath upon sinners for their sins. It is a place of perfect punishment upon a sinner, for sins that have not been forgiven and covered by the blood of Jesus.
2 Thess. 1:6-9 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels 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. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.
It is called the lake of fire, the Abyss, Gehenna, and Hades. It is that place where the second death reigns for all eternity. The second death is that complete and absolute separation of those made in the image of God from any experiential sense of God’s wonderful and life-giving presence. Those living upon God’s beautiful earth do enjoy the sense of God’s presence to some degree. Hell is that place where there is the horrific sense of complete abandonment from our Creator, Whose very being is our only sense of life and blessing.
Why Does Hell Exist?
Matt. 25:41 “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….’”
Hell is that place that was created for the devil and his angels. It was created in response to the rebellion of the demonic forces of evil, who had sinned against the immediate presence of God, without deception.
God never purposed that any of mankind might spend eternity in hell. The only reason any of Adam’s posterity will be in hell for all of eternity is because they have rejected God’s perfect and holy love for them and have followed Satan in his rebellion against God.
If God is a God of Love, How Could He Send People into an Eternal Hell?
On the contrary and surprising to our naturally carnal minds, the attribute of God that is the cause of hell is the attribute of God’s love.
Song of Solomon 8:6 ….For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; Its flashes are flashes of fire, The very flame of the LORD.
The reason hell is a place of such extremity is because of the extremity of God’s love, which has been rejected by unthankful and wicked sinners. This negative side of God’s love is His wrath. God’s love is like an arrow, in that it is one directional. The attribute of God’s holiness gives His love its direction, as God’s love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but with the truth [1 Cor. 13:6]. Those who stand in opposition to God’s holy love will smart for it. The wrath of God is not an attribute of God itself, but rather, an action of God that is derived from His unchanging love for all those who bear His image.
It is because God loves with a perfect and holy love for all those whom He has created to bear His image, that God’s wrath burns upon sinners who reject His love for them. It is unrequited love that fuels God’s response of wrath, understood as His unchanging love expressed in perfect harmony with the disposition of the sinner. If God did not love sinners then His wrath would not burn for eternity against those who have made it clear that they want nothing to do with Him. If God does not love sinners then He simply wouldn’t care whether or not they loved Him.
If God’s wrath were due solely to His holiness then there would be no delay. God’s wrath would simply fall upon sinners and there would be no patient enduring and striving with sinners. It is the love of God that is the source of God’s patience just as much as it is the source of His wrath.
Why Does an Infinite and Eternal God Punish Sinners with an Eternal Punishment for a Finite Amount of Sin?
Anselm of Canterbury argued that it was because the finite sins of men were against an infinite God that therefore justice could only be satisfied with an eternal punishment.
Another answer is to understand that God is not bound by time, as He created time. He is the great ‘I AM’, which is to say that He is that One who of Himself is completely autonomous in His own being. He is. That is, His being is not defined or determined by time. While for us finite beings, we cannot lay claim to being of an indefinite existence that just ‘is’.
Consequently, all of our sins, past and present, are always present time to an eternal God. They are all ever before His holy face! Those who reason that God would not be too concerned for sins once a lengthy period to time has passed, fail to appreciate God’s timelessness in regard to our sins. Furthermore, our sins, though committed in the past do have an on-going effect as the omission or commission of sin cannot be ignored or forgotten.
The good news of Jesus’ death upon the cross for sinners is that this carries the weight of an eternal redemption, because it also is apprehended by an eternal God that is a reality at all times present to Him.