Is Hell Real? Hell Fire? Is It a Place of Eternal Torment?
- Summary: Is hell real? Or just a symbol? Is there actual hell fire, or is that merely a vivid image representing God’s displeasure? Jesus Christ spoke about the fires of hell and of hell itself as a very real place of fire and eternal torment. Come and read His clear words.
Matthew 23:33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?”
- •• “Condemned to hell”! — these sobering words were spoken by Jesus Christ. While rebuking the scribes and Pharisees who were rejecting Him, Jesus spoke of the likelihood of their being “condemned to hell”.
•• A 2008 survey showed that only 59% of Americans believe (correctly) that there is a real hell, a real place of punishment. That means that 41% of Americans have embraced a tragic error that is easily corrected by a plain reading of the Scriptures.
•• Hell was a somewhat vague concept in the Old Testament. But it takes on clear meaning in the New Testament, particularly in the words of Jesus in the Gospels and of John in Revelation.
- • Like many of you, I’ve done word studies on terms like sheol, hades, and gehenna. But that amount of detail is not my intent here. I simply wish to draw from the straightforward words of the New Testament the clear conclusion that there is a real hell, a place of fire and torment, where God will inflict eternal punishment on those who have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 5:22 ...anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:29-30 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
- •• In our opening verse we saw Jesus warning that some would be “condemned to hell”. It is clear that Jesus saw hell as a definite, real place to which some people would be condemned, or damned.
•• In the two verses above we see Jesus shedding more light on hell.
- • It is a place of fire — “the fire of hell”.
• It is a distinct, identifiable place. The wicked would “go into hell”. They would be “thrown into hell”. So to the question: "Is hell real?" Jesus answers with a resounding "Yes!"
Matthew 18:8-9 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.  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.
- •• Again Jesus shows us that hell is: (1) an identifiable place; (2) a place the wicked will be “thrown into”; (3) a place of "fire". Again, is hell real, an actual place, a place of fire? According to Jesus Christ, absolutely yes.
•• But here Jesus adds another descriptive element: the wicked will be “thrown into eternal fire”. Hell's fire is not a fire that annihilates its occupants and then burns out, but rather one that lasts eternally.
- • Similar words are spoken in Revelation 14:10-11 about those who worship the antichrist and receive his mark: “He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.  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.”
• Jesus’ earlier emphasis on fiery torment for eternity is reaffirmed here. Although John does not explicitly mention “hell” here, the context is clearly that of God’s wrath and a destination place of fiery torment for those upon whom God’s judgment falls. And the “smoke of [this] torment rises for ever and ever.”
Mark 9:43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
Mark 9:45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
Mark 9:47-48 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell  where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’
- •• Here Jesus restates two important facts about hell:
- • It is a real place, a real hell, and the lost “go into” it.
• Hell fire is eternal — “the fire never goes out.”
- •• And Jesus adds a new insight (Mark 9:47). Hell and the kingdom of God are the two opposite destinations. From numerous Scriptures we know that the born-again believer in Jesus Christ spends eternity in the kingdom of God. Those who have not received God's offer of salvation through His Son Jesus go to hell and burn in hell's torment for ever and ever.
Luke 16:19-31 ... The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.  In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.  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...’  I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,  for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
- •• What is life in hell like? Jesus describes hell as a place to be avoided at all costs!
- •  “in hell, where he was in torment”
• The man in hell fire was alert, conscious, and able to speak. He was not annihilated, as some wrongly believe happens at death.
•  “I am in agony in this fire.” Again, the clear statement that hell fire is a place of ongoing agony.
Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
- •• After the Last Judgment, all the occupants of hell — whose names were “not found written in the book of life” — will be cast into the lake of fire. This is the final, fiery, hell-like destination for all who have rejected the Gospel and the Savior, Jesus Christ.
- • The devil himself ends up in this lake of fire, which is called a place of torment “for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
Summary: The New Testament teaching is clear:
- • There is a real hell.
• Hell is a real place, not just a symbol.
• Those who die outside the Lord’s grace and salvation in Jesus Christ will be condemned (damned) to hell.
• Hell — and the lake of fire that in the end receives all the occupants of hell — is a real place of fire, torment, and agony.
• The torment is eternal, the fire never goes out.
• The occupants of hell will be conscious, able to communicate, and aware of their agony.
Conclusion: I take no joy in the fact that many will choose to reject Jesus Christ and will spend eternity in the fires of hell. To provide salvation from the wrath due to our sins, God the Father allowed His Son Jesus to die for our sins, to be buried, and then to be raised from the dead and ascend alive back to heaven. Jesus is there today, at the right hand of God the Father. And nothing would give Him greater joy than to receive you unto Himself as a born-again child of God, delivered from the condemnation to hell fire that our sins deserve. If you wish to make peace with God through Jesus Christ today, please read and act upon evangelist Billy Graham’s Steps to Peace with God. You will be eternally thankful that you did.
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©2009, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons and Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.