Our Basis Of Doctrine: Part 15 - Hell
This is an ongoing series of blog posts in which we provide a brief overview of our church’s Basis of Doctrine as set out in the Church Constitution, by defining, explaining and proving from Scripture the various doctrines expressed. This is not meant to be an exhaustive study, so there is much that won’t be stated or defended. Click here to view our Basis of Doctrine.
The conscious eternal punishment of those who die impenitent.
Conscious - self-awareness
Eternal - without end
Punishment - it is a deliberate act of God to render to each person what they deserve
Impenitent - unrepentant and having no feeling of remorse
The Bible speaks of the reality of hell in the same terms as the reality of heaven (Revelation 20:14–15; 21:1–2). In fact, Jesus spent more time warning people about the dangers of hell than He did in comforting them with the hope of heaven. The concept of a real, conscious, forever-and-ever existence in hell is just as biblical as a real, conscious, forever-and-ever existence in heaven. Trying to separate them is simply not possible from a biblical standpoint.
Despite the Bible’s clear teaching of both heaven and hell, it is not unusual for people to believe in the reality of heaven while rejecting the reality of hell. In part, this is due to wishful thinking. It’s easier to accept the idea of a “nice” afterlife, but damnation isn’t quite so appealing. This is the same mistake human beings often make when it comes to substance abuse, dangerous behaviors, and so forth. The assumption that we will get what we want overrides the unpleasant (but rational) view that things might not end well.
Rejection of the existence of hell can also be blamed on inaccurate assumptions about what hell is. Hell is frequently imagined as a burning wasteland, a dungeon full of cauldrons and pitchforks, or an underground city filled with ghosts and goblins. Popular depictions of hell often involve a flaming torture chamber or a spiritual jail where evil things reside—and where good things travel to battle evil. This version of hell does not exist. There is a real place called hell, but it is not the Dante’s Inferno image most people think of. Certain details about hell are given in the Bible, but those details do not match the popular myths.
The Bible actually gives very few particulars about hell. We know that it was originally intended for demonic spiritual beings, not people (Matthew 25:41). The experience of being in hell is compared to burning (Mark 9:43; 9:48; Matthew 18:9; Luke 16:24). At the same time, hell is compared to darkness (Matthew 22:13) and associated with intense grief (Matthew 8:12) and horror (Mark 9:44).
In short, the Bible tells us only what being in hell is “like”; it does not explicitly say what hell is or how exactly it functions. What the Bible does make clear is that hell is real, eternal, and to be avoided at all costs (Matthew 5:29–30).
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.
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.”
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
And 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 crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
“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.
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—
And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
(2 Thessalonians 1:9)
These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
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. 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.”
and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.