The Reality of Hell
Mark 9:43-48; John 3:16-21

A. Jesus Wants Us to Know!
1. We have been studying and learning all about what the Bible says about Heaven – and it has been a wonderful time talking about heaven!
a) Beliefs in the USA – Heaven Hell
(1) Christians 92% 79%
(2) Adults 73% 62%
(3) Women 78% 65%
(4) Men 68% 59%
(5) Ages 18-29 63% 55%
(6) Agnostic 26% 14%
(7) Atheist 3% 1%
b) There are always more people who believe in heaven than in hell no matter how you break them down!
2. Do you know who talked more about hell than anyone else in the Bible? Jesus!
a) Why? Because He came to save us from hell!
b) Jesus wants us all to know the reality of hell!
c) So there is no way I can talk about heaven for 4 weeks and not share with you what Jesus wants us to know about hell!
d) People may want to believe that they can get away with sin, but their sins will eventually be exposed and judged righteously.
e) Those who have not trusted the Lord Jesus Christ will be doomed forever.
3. In the book of Ecclesiastes Solomon tells us to enjoy life while we can, but at no time does he advise us to enjoy sin.
a) The joy that you can have in the present depend on your security in the future.
b) If you know Jesus Christ as your Savior, then your sins have already been judged on the cross; and “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1; John 5:24).
c) But if you die having never trusted Christ, you will face judgment at His throne (Rev. 20:11–15).
d) Is life worth living? – Yes! If you are truly alive through faith in Jesus Christ.

B. The Great Divorce
1. C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce is a fictitious story of a bus trip from hell to heaven written from the point of view of a passenger on the bus.
a) Lewis presents with uncanny insight an imaginative description of hell, driving home hell’s reality.
b) He pokes fun at man’s attempt to clutch at the beliefs that hell is not quite so bad, nor evil so wrong, and that in good time everything will turn out all right in the end.
c) With great precision his characters act out the many reasons people sadly reject heaven and actually choose hell.
d) His analogy depicts the very real and personal battle people fight against the lordship of Christ in their lives.
e) This vivid word picture stays with readers for years!
2. But it is nothing like the picture that God’s Word paints of the reality of Hell!
a) What is Hell like?
b) What does the Bible say about Hell and especially, what does Jesus say?

I. The Bible Words for Hell
A. Hell = to cover or to hide
1. The word “hell” means to cover or to hide
2. It includes the idea of a turning away of the face of the Almighty in rejection.
3. Jesus talked about the eternal possibility of God saying, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.”
4. When David’s son Absalom rebelled against his father, his insur¬rection was put down.
a) David allowed him to return and live in Jerusalem, but the Bible says he was not allowed to see the king’s face (2 Samuel 14:24 32).
b) Absalom couldn’t bear this.
c) To be so close to his father, and yet never allowed to see his face was an exclusion that he couldn’t handle.
d) Hell will be like that.

B. Sheol = to be hollow
1. Another word used to describe this place or state is the word Sheol. It means “to be hollow” or “to be empty”.
2. Job uses the word pit in the Old Testament giving the idea of an empty place beyond death where the dead were gathered in their tribes and families to await the judgment (Genesis 15:15; 49:33; Job 33:24).
3. Sheol is described as a bottomless, silent space where no bird sings, no child laughs, no wind rustles through the trees.
a) No one talks to anyone for the sense of isolation obsesses the consciousness and locks you into your own lostness.
b) It’s hard to describe emptiness, but the Bible tries to help us picture sheol by painting it in shadows and grey tones.
c) 1998 Robin Williams movie – “What Dreams May Come”

C. Gehenna = Valley of Hinnom
1. The next word used to describe hell gehenna.
2. Jesus used this word picture often (Matthew 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:14, 33).
a) Gehenna was the Valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where humans were once sacrificed and corpses burned (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6).
b) In Jesus’ day the refuse of the city was burned there – a very graphic picture of a fire that is never quenched.
c) Jesus talked of unending pain in this devastating fire (Matthew 25:41; Luke 12:5).

D. Hades = unseen
1. The last word used to describe hell is Hades.
2. The Greek word Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol.
3. The picture of Hades revealed by Jesus is that of the other world: the unseen world, the spiritual world.
4. Jesus says that Hades is a place that is divided into two huge areas or sections.
a) The two areas are separated by a great gulf that is impassible (Luke 16:26) – Rich man and Lazarus.
b) One area is the place of sorrow (Luke 16:23-24, 28).
c) The other area is the place of Paradise where believers go.
d) To say that a person is dead is to say that one is in hades, in the other world.
5. The other world, the spiritual world and the spiritual dimension of being, does exist.
a) There are two areas or two places in the other world:
(1) Paradise, the place of glory,
(2) Hell, the place of torment.
b) Jesus says clearly that they both actually exist.

II. The Bible’s Pictures of Hell
A. Hell is a place of unquenchable fire. (Matthew 3:12; 13:41-32; Mark 9:43-46)
1. Heaven is the place where we recline at the table of the marriage feast of the Lamb, but hell is a place of unquenchable fire!
2. Matthew 3:12 (ESV) 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
3. Mark 9:43-46 (NKJV)
43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–
44 where ‘Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’
45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–
46 where ‘Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.’
4. Matthew 13:41-42 (ESV)
41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers,
42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
5. Opposing positions have been taken concerning whether the fire here is literal fire.
a) It has been suggested that the fire is not real fire but something far worse.
b) However, the Greek language would indicate otherwise.
c) The same Greek word for fire (pur) used in Matthew 13:42 is also found in Matthew 17:15 and Luke 17:29.
d) Matthew 17:15 (ESV)
15 said, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly. For often he falls into the fire, and often into the water.
e) Luke 17:29 (ESV)
29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—

B. Hell is a place of remorse. (Luke 16:19-31)
1. Heaven is a place of joy and celebration with no tears, but hell is a place of remorse.
2. In Luke 16:19-31 the unsaved rich man experienced memory and remorse over his lost condition in Hades.

C. Hell is a place of thirst. (Luke 16:19-31)
1. Heaven is a place where the river of life runs through it and when you drink from this water you will never thirst, but Hell is a place of unquenchable thirst.
2. It would seem difficult to accept Luke 16 literally unless the fire in hell is literal.

D. Hell is a place of torment with no rest. (Revelation 14:10, 11)
1. Heaven is a place where we will rest from our labors, but Hell is a place of torment with no rest.
2. Revelation 14:10-11 (ESV)
10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

E. Hell is a place of frustration and anger. (Matthew 24:51)
1. Heaven is a place of contentment and peace, but Hell is a place of frustration and anger.
2. Matthew 24:51 (ESV)
51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

F. Hell is a place of eternal darkness. (Matthew 8:12; 2 Peter 2:17)
1. Heaven is filled with the brilliant light of the Shekinah glory of God, but Hell is a place of eternal darkness.
2. Matthew 8:12 (ESV)
12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
3. 2 Peter 2:17 (ESV)
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.

G. Hell is the place of the bottomless pit. (Revelation 9:1)
1. Heaven is the highest place in all of creation, but Hell is the place of the bottomless pit.
2. Revelation 9:1 (ESV)
1 And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.

H. Hell is the place of the undiluted wrath of God. (Habakkuk 3:2; Revelation 14:10)
1. Heaven is the place where all of God’s blessings are completed, but Hell is the place of undiluted wrath of God!
2. Man has already experienced some of God’s wrath on this earth, but not in its pure state.
a) After the flood there has been the rainbow, for up to this point God has always heard and answered the prophet Habakkuk’s prayer,
b) Habakkuk 3:2 (NKJV)
2 O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.
c) But no more! All living unsaved men should carefully ponder over these frightful words from Revelation 14:10
d) Revelation 14:10 (ESV)
10 he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

I. Hell is a place originally prepared for Satan and his demons. (Matthew 25:41)
1. Heaven is the place where God’s throne is surrounded by His angels and His people, but Hell is a place originally prepared for Satan and his demons.
2. I think that the saddest fact about hell is that unsaved man goes there as an uninvited guest. Note Jesus’ words:
a) Matthew 25:41 (ESV)
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
3. It is truly tragic that the sinner will refuse heaven, the place prepared for all repenting people, only to eventually descend into hell, a place originally not created for him!

J. Hell is a place created for all eternity. (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46)
1. Heaven is a place created for all eternity, and Hell is also a place created for all eternity!
2. The Greek word for “everlasting” is aionios, and is found seventy-one times in the New Testament.
a) Sixty-four of these instances are in reference to God, such as his eternal power, Spirit, kingdom, covenant, etc.
b) The other seven times refer directly to the duration of hell.
c) So, hell will continue as long as God’s works continue, which is forever!
d) There are many passages which bring this truth out:
(1) Daniel 12:2 (ESV)
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
(2) Matthew 25:46 (ESV)
46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
3. One of the most difficult truths to accept, even for Christians, is the duration of hell.
a) You can understand a sixty-five-year old sinner going to hell for sixty-five years, or 650, or 6500, or even 65 million years.
b) But why for eternity?
c) How can a just God rightfully punish forever those sins which were committed in a brief period of time on earth?
4. A full answer to this exists only in the mind of God.
a) But hell does show vividly the absolute evil of sin and the absolute holiness of God!
b) Sin against God’s eternal holiness can only be punished by God’s eternal justice.

K. Hell is a place of eternal separation – the second death. (Matthew 7:21-23; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 15)
1. Heaven is the place where you are in the very presence of God, but Hell is a place of eternal separation – the second death.
2. Sometimes you hear an unsaved person joking about hell by saying: “Well, if I do go to hell, I won’t be lonely, for all my friends will be there too.”
a) Actually, just the opposite is true!
b) In at least four separate passages Gehenna, hell, is called “the second death.”
3. Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’
23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
4. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 (ESV)
9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
5. Revelation 2:11 (ESV)
11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
6. Revelation 20:6, 15 (ESV)
6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
7. “Death” in the Bible refers to separation.
a) So, hell is literally the second death, for the sinner will be forever separated from God.
b) Since Gehenna is a place of darkness, this separation will isolate him from the companionship of any other person.
c) The worst thing about hell is exactly the opposite to the best thing about heaven!
d) In heaven you will know the comfort and joy of being with Jesus and all your saved loved ones.
e) But hell is a place where lost people will be totally isolated from Jesus and those they love for all of eternity!
f) They will spend all eternity focused on self and self alone!
g) This is truly what hell is – total alienation from the presence of God!

8. People, hell is a place of the undiluted wrath of God, eternal punishment by separation from God in the torment of unquenchable fire with thirst and remorse in a darkness that never ends. It is the second death, imprisonment in a bottomless pit – for all of eternity!!
9. But, praise be to God! Christ came to give us eternal life and reconciliation is possible because of the Cross of Calvary!

III. How to Avoid Hell (John 3:16-21; Romans 5:8)
A. Jesus has prepared a place for us (John 14:1-4)
1. That place is in paradise, in heaven – hell was prepared for Satan and his fallen angels!
2. Jesus taught us the necessity of preparing for the prepared place He has prepared for us!
a) This preparation can begin today.
b) The writer of the Book of Hebrews said, “Today is the day of salvation’ (Hebrews 3:7).
3. When the night comes that God requires our soul, who is going to argue?
a) In the words of Emily Dickinson:
Because I could not stop for death He kindly stopped for me.
The carriage held but just ourselves And immortality!
b) One day death will “kindly stop for me” and you!
c) Whether we agree with the truth of that or not is irrelevant.

B. A promise to encourage (John 3:16-17)
1. 16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
2. He promises you eternal life if you believe on Him (John 3:16)
3. Christ died for your sin that you might be saved from condemnation to hell!

C. A warning to heed (John 3:18-19)
1. 18”He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
2. Condemnation for sin is real and Hell is real!
3. You must heed this warning from God that you hear in you heart!
4. Stop fighting against what God has told you is the truth!

D. An attitude to change (John 3:19-20)
1. 19And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
2. Don’t love evil and run away from the light!
3. Stop loving evil and hating light.
4. God knows all about your sin and He still loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for your sin!
a) Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

E. An action to take (John 3:21)
1. 21But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.
2. You need to come to the Light of Jesus Christ! Come out of the darkness of sin and in to the light of His Salvation!
3. You need to repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior!
4. We have been warned.
a) If we have never read the Bible, we have heard these words today. There is no excuse for us.
b) If there is “any doubt in your hearts that you have been saved from such a lost state in the future you need to make sure of your salvation before this service is over today.
c) Is Christ in your life?
d) The writer to the Hebrews said, “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart” (Hebrews 3:15).
e) “Today is the day of salvation.”