By: Carl Richardson
HELL IS NO JOKE. It is the most deadly serious subject in all the realm of human thought.
Yet very few persons take the thought of hell seriously anymore. Some consider hell as an illusionary place where all sinners will eventually get together and continue to sin. They joke that although hell may not have the comfort and convenience of heaven, it will not be too bad after all. “At least I’ll have plenty of company – down there shoveling coal,” they- laughingly say. This statement is almost always followed by uproarious laughter, and then comes a sober half-second of contemplation of the possible reality of the place called hell.
Not many people today know God’s definition of hell: Hell is “eternal punishment in solitary confinement.” Hell is “the wine of wrath of Almighty God poured out without restraint.”
Now, let me lay it on the line to you. Preaching about hell will never make any preacher popular; but then neither is it pleasant for the preacher.
Jesus Himself had more to say about hell than did any other person. Surely, there is no greater authority than He. Jesus never deceived us: He preferred an unpleasant truth to a pleasing lie.
Three times in Mark 9 Jesus referred to the lost who enter hell as going to a place where their “worm dieth not.” The Greek word . is skolex (grub), the name for the worm that consumes the bodies of the dead. We know that when the body dies, agencies immediately begin to reduce it to its constituent elements. When this decomposing process ends, the worms die, having nothing upon which to feed. In hell, in some horrible way, this process of decomposition never ends. There is no liberation. There is only separation.
Think of it! Hell has no escape! Persons in hell have no hope of any relief; they are trapped forever. No wonder God gave His only begotten Son as the way of escape!
Although biblical authors do not vividly describe hell, they do use certain words loaded with imagery. The word hell is derived from a Greek word gehenna, meaning “perpetual burnings.” For instance, the remains of sacrifices offered at the temples were taken for burning to a place south of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom. The sacrifices were offered so frequently that there was a continual burning. Hell is described as such a place of continual burning (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30).
The essence of hell is judgment of a righteous God upon unrighteousness. Because of sin, the sinner is ushered through hell’s wide-open doors. The Bible says, “Hell hath
enlarged herself- (Isaiah 5:14). Whether you believe it or not, there really is a place called hell.
A long dark night is coming, one in which there will be no expressions of love, no songs of joy, and no godly choruses. How black that night will be! The never-ending darkness will be accompanied by a chorus of unending weeping, unending regret, unending hate, and unending misery. Such a night is coming for all those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life.
You may be a blasphemer whose mouth- is black with oaths. You may have taken the name of God in vain; used this blessed name in profanity. If the God who holds your next breath in the palm of His mighty hand were to require your soul of you, you would plunge into hell where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
But you don’t have to go to hell! There is an .escape! Repent of your sins, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and you have the promise that you will be filled with the Holy Ghost. God loves you too much for you willfully to be lost.
You may be a drunkard whose mind is clouded and whose health is wrecked. Your life has been a shambles. You have wasted your lifetime by indulging in one drunken binge after another. Time and time again you have gone into a drunken stupor. You have little left in your life but regret. But God loves you! Though your sins be as scarlet, He can make you white as snow. Praise God, there is hope for you in the shed blood of Jesus Christ!
You may be a woman who has sinned against God and against yourself enormously. For years you have covered up the guilt that has hounded your soul. Even now you blush at the memory of your sin. Remember Him who said to the adulterous woman in the Bible, “Go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). That is what Jesus says to every sinner today: “Go, and sin no more. . .thy sins be forgiven thee!” (Read Luke 7:41-50.)
Hell is a place of total despair. Think about it. In hell there is no hope, no optimism, no faith, no encouragement, no kindness, no smiling, no forgiveness. In hell, there is not even the hope of dying. . .the hope of being annihilated.
Not only is hell a place, but it is also ‘a prepared place. According to Matthew 25:41, hell was prepared not for people, but for the devil and his angels. Therefore, you do not belong in hell! If you go to hell, you will be an outsider, an intruder, a trespasser.
Hell is not a home; it is the farthest thing from home that can be imagined: A home is filled with love; hell is filled with hate. It will be no consolation for a father and son to be in hell together. The mother who has not reared her lovely, young daughter and her son in the fear and admonition of the Lord will hate herself. The back-slider will have a million regrets for his wasted years and for his Christless eternity.
Hell is a place of total timelessness. On every chain in hell’s prison there is written the word forever. People in hell look up. They try to find God, but He is nowhere to be found. They hear a million screaming voices saying, “Forever.” Their minds are galled, and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is “forever.”
Would to God that I could tell you that someday the fires of hell will be turned out and that those who die without Jesus could one day be saved! But it cannot be! It is “forever” that they are lost. Heed what the Bible has to say: “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night” (Revelation 14:11).
There it is! Explain it away if you wish. The Bible still says that hell will be forever! After a trillion years in hell, you will be no nearer to getting out than you were the first day you arrived.
However, measuring time in hell will be impossible. What a dreadful thing it would be to suffer alienation and separation from a loving Christ for even one single moment, but people in hell must suffer it throughout endless eternity! Life with Jesus Christ is endless hope; without Him, it is a hopeless end.
Hell is a place of total torment. Eternity is the duration of that torment. Think of it, torment that lasts forever!
What are the torments of hell?
First, the absence of God’s presence is one of the greatest torments of hell. This alone would be hell enough for me! Fire would not be needed. Just the knowledge that I had failed God and myself would be torment enough for me. But there is more.
Second, eternal separation from loved ones who died in the Lord is a torment of hell. You will never again see these loved ones.
Third, a good memory will provide torment throughout eternity. (Read for yourself what Jesus said in His masterful message about hell, found in Luke 16:19-31.) One thing the rich man took with him to hell was his memory. His life on earth was an open book as soon as he opened his eyes in hell. He could remember every-thing he had done on earth, and all the things he had failed to do. He remembered that he had five brothers, and he prayed that some prophet be raised from the dead to warn his brothers not to come to hell.
He remembered; you, too, will remember. You will remember how you laughed away the convicting power of the Holy Ghost.. You will remember the times you trampled God’s mercy under your feet. You will remember, but it will be too late!
An excursion is usually thought of as being a pleasant experience, through hell, the opposite is true. Matthew 10:28 states: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Everybody who is in hell right now is there against God’s will. “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)
Turn away from this horrible picture for a few moments, and listen to some good news. The good news is that you do not have to go to hell. You do not have to live one minute longer without Jesus Christ in your life. You can repent, be forgiven of your sins, and be filled with God’s Spirit right now. God loves you so much that He is not willing for you to be eternally lost in hell.
This article “An Excursion through Hell” written by Carl Richardson is excerpted from Pentecostal Herald 1974.