In a recent discussion with a friend, he stated that he is not convinced that Hell is a place where people literally feel like they are burning forever.
This, as well as the writings of Rob Bell in his text, “Love Wins”, has led me to study the doctrine of Hell as understood by the early Church fathers and as taught in the Scriptures by the Christ.
I believe it has been mentioned before that Rob Bell, and many others, do not believe that Hell is eternal. They believe that Hell is a temporary destination for sinners and the unrepentant until they have suffered their just punishment for their sins on this earth and then they will be released to spend the remainder of eternity living in fellowship with God.
This, as I have learned, and I hope you, dear reader, know, is not biblical and, in truth, does not fit into the justice of the eternal God.
I want to focus right now on the fact that Hell is indeed eternal. We will explore how Hell fits into the justice of God at a later time.
In Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica, he warns them that those who refuse to follow the teachings of Christ will suffer “eternal destruction” as a result of their disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:5-9).
The Christ Himself even speaks of the fact that Hell is eternal. When speaking regarding the end days, using the separation of the sheep and the goats as an illustration, He tells His hearers that those who did not care for Him or for His followers, or, in His words, “the least of these”, will “go away into eternal punishment“. (Matthew 25:46; emphasis mine)
Jude, the brother of James, tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the “punishment of eternal fire” as a result of their sinfulness and failure to obey God. He comments that this punishment served “as an example” (Jude 1:7).
If Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of the punishment that sinners will receive in that they underwent eternal fire, how much more will Hell be? What makes us, mere mortals, clay in the hands of the Potter, think that sinners will escape eternal judgment and fire if the twin cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, did not escape it?
As much as our human sympathies want to believe that Hell is not eternal, Scripture teaches us otherwise. Who are we to argue with the Almighty? Accept what the Scriptures teach you and bow to the justice of the Almighty.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says.