Five Reasons Hell Is Real
My purpose in doing this study, is not to prove hell, heaven or anything supernatural to an unbeliever but to establish in the minds of Christians that the Bible teaches that Hell is a real place and that there must be a place like hell for those who reject God and His salvation freely offered through Jesus Christ.
First, some background on the word, Hell itself. The word comes from the Saxon word helon, which became the Old English hel it meant “to cover” or “to conceal.” Hel was also the name, in Old Norse, of the Scandinavian queen of the underworld. English translations of the Bible usually use the word hell for the Hebrew term Gehinnom, or Gehenna and the Greek word, Hades.
Reason 1. Hell Was a Universal Human Belief
In Mesopotamian, hell is described as a distant land of no return, a house of dust where the dead dwell without distinction of rank or merit, and a sealed fortress, typically of seven gates, barred against invasion or escape. The god-king Gilgamesh travels to the end of the world, crosses the sea of death, and undergoes terrible trials and then realizes that that mortality is inescapable. In the Gilgamesh epic, Hell is a house of darkness where the dead “drink dirt and eat stone.”
In Egypt after death the dead were judged by Osiris, those who failed the test based upon their goodness and preparation for the afterlife, were devoured by a crocodile headed monster and then tormented by demons or much worse.
In Greek and Roman belief, hell is called hades, the word most often used for Hell in the KJV. Hades is named after the God, Hades, who ruled there. People in his realm could be both bad or good and hades or hell was in general an abode of the dead. Those that were evil or had offended the gods, however were sent to the field of Tartarus where they were tormented
In Persian and Zoroastrian beliefs, hell is overseen by Yima, the first person to die and is the place where all that is evil, dark and opposing life dwells. Demons there torture sinners until one day, like purgatory they have paid a price and the torment stops.
In Muslim tradition hell is a combination of the beliefs of hell that have preceded it. It contains elements of Egyptian, Zoroastrian, Jewish and Christian versions of hell. Life deeds are recorded, the soul is weighed, there is a bridge, which widens for the righteous but narrows to a knife-edge for sinners, who lose their footing and plunge into the flames below. In Islam God predestines all things and yet somehow holds individuals accountable for their choices.
In Hinduism, which believes in reincarnation and the soul’s continual rebirth, those who commit terrible sins are reborn into hell and spend time there until they can be reborn on a lower plane of existence as a bug or a rat.
In Buddhism, which also believes in reincarnation, there are still multiple hot hells beneath the earth, or in millions of universes in which humans suffer but there are buddhas (teachers) there to show them the error of their ways. In Buddhism, all hells as well as all life, are actually illusions. Still the suffering of those in hell and those reborn as hungry ghosts is excruciating,
The point is before you dismiss the idea of hell completely you have to find a way to explain why such a belief is nearly universal in all societies and civilizations throughout history. Why would they believe in hell unless there was a common source for that belief? The best explanation for that source would be God who revealed it to man before the flood and the dispersion of mankind at Babel.
Reason 2. The Old Testament Declares There is A Hell
In the Old Testament, the word Sheol is the word translated Hell. In general, it refers to “the abode of the dead”
both the righteous.
Gen 37:35; Isa 38:10; Ps 30:3, 9
and the unrighteous.
Num 16:30, 33
It is the realm of the dead
Isa 14:9-10; Job 26:5-6
Sheol can also simply refer to the grave.
Isa 14:11; Job 17:13-16; Ps 30:3 88:3-5; Prov 7:27
Hos 13:14; Hab 2:5; Isa 28:15, 18; 38:18; Song 8:6; Ps 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov 5:5; 1 Kings 2:6, 9).
As well as the place reserved for the wicked
Ps 9:17; 31:17; 49:13-14
Its location is downward, the opposite of heaven
Ps 55:15; 86:13; Prov 9:18; 15:24; Isa 14:15; Jon 2:2
It is portrayed as a place of "darkness"
Job 17:13 and "dust" Job 17:16, The place where the worm feasts
The place where the worm feasts
Job 17:14; 24:19-20; Isa 14:11.
Once one enters there will be no return
Isa 38:10, Job 7:9-10; Isa 38:10, 18.
Except for the righteous
Hos 13:14; Ps 16:10; 49:15; Job 14:13; 1 Sam 2:6
The revelation of God in the Old Testament shows that Hell (Sheol) is a real and is a place of punishment for the wicked. If we deny Hell as God’s judgment for the wicked of this world, then we must also deny scripture in the Old Testament that clearly teaches exactly that.
Reason 3. The New Testament Declares There Is A Hell
The word hades occurs four times in the Gospel while the word Gehenna occurs eleven times both words are translated as hell. The Gospels also use words like darkness and fire to describe eternal punishment.
Hades is found in Matthew 16:18; 11:23 Lk 10:15; Lk 16:23),
Gehenna in Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Mt 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Lk 12:5).
Gehenna literally, the "Valley of (the son of) Hinnom." In the Old Testament it was a place of horrific sin committed by Kings Ahaz and Manasseh and their people, who burned sacrifices to Moloch there,
These sacrifices included their own sons, burning them in the outstretched hands of the idol as it was heated searing red. 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6; 2 Kings 16:3
Because of this terrible desecration, the valley of Hinnom was turned into a dumping ground for the city of Jerusalem. All the refuse of the city, including dead animals and dead criminals were thrown there. A fire was kept continually burning in order to consume the refuse and dead.
Outside the Gospels the rest of the New Testament consistently shows hell as a place of eternal torment, punishment and regret.
It is a place of fire and darkness for sinners and the unrepentant
Jude 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude 1:13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
A Place of destruction
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;
and of everlasting, unremitting torment
Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Reason 4. Jesus warns about Hell
Not only does the New Testament warn us of hell but its most adamant teacher is Jesus Christ. One of the most obvious difficulties in denying hell as a place of eternal punishment comes from the fact that Jesus was the New Testament’s most passionate advocate in warning about the torment of hell. If you would deny hell, then it would seem you must deny Jesus as well.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn't be a great moral teacher. He'd be either a lunatic on a level with a man who says he's a poached egg or else he'd be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. - C. S. Lewis
In a similar vein you don’t have the option of denying what Jesus said about hell anymore than you have the option of saying He was a great teacher but not the son of God. Jesus said He was God and He also said Hell was real. If you deny His words about Hell then how can you believe His words about His deity, or salvation or forgiveness or anything else.
Jesus clearly taught that hell was a place of punishment and suffering
First prepared for the devil and his angels
Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Now also a place for those who reject God and Jesus His Son
Matthew 11:20-24 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
Matthew 8:10-12 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Sinners, Jesus warned, would be judged and sent there
Matthew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Matthew 13:41-42 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
He proclaimed hell was a place of punishment for sins
like hateful language and intent Mt 5:22,
unfaithfulness Mt 24:45-51 par. Lk 12:41-46,
unrepentance Mt 5:29-30; 18:8-9 par. Mk 9:43-47;
and disobedience Mt 5:22; 7:19; 13:40, 42, 50; 25:30; Jn 15:6
Jesus said hell’s location was in the depths, the opposite of the heights of heaven, just as it was stated in the Old Testament
Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
Jesus taught that hell would be an eternal, conscious punishment.
This is clearly taught in Matthew 25:46, where the righteous and the unrighteous are both appointed to eternal destinies. The righteous to "eternal life" but the unrighteous to "eternal punishment".
Jesus taught that in hell torment would be eternal and unending. He said the worm feeding on the dead, would not die
Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. the "fire that is not put out"
He taught that "weeping and gnashing of teeth" was always ongoing
Matthew 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
If you reject everything Jesus said about hell, and he said more about hell than any other preacher in the New Testament, then how can you believe what Jesus said about anything else?
Reason 5. Hell Is Real Because Man’s Choice Makes It Necessary
If man was created in the image of God, with the ability to choose right and wrong, then man must also be allowed in that free will to experience the reward of good choices and the punishment or bad choices. The choice to reject God, which God gave to man, must then have a consequence and the only place such a consequence can be real is in hell. - DKM
In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does. - C. S. Lewis
If the believer will live eternally in the presence of God and in his favor, the unbeliever will exist eternally away from the beneficial presence of God. – Henry Thiessan In Lectures on Systematic Theology
The strongest objection (to hell as an eternal punishment) is thought to be the idea that a God of love could not punish his creatures eternally. But this is to forget that at death character is fixed, and that the law of congruity (same with same) requires that the (eternal) living be separated from the (eternal) dead. It is not a question of God’s love, but of the soul’s life. – Henry Thiessan
Scripture sees hell as self-chosen; those in hell will realize that they sentenced themselves to it by loving darkness rather than light, choosing not to have their Creator as their Lord, preferring self-indulgent sin to self-denying righteousness, and (if they encountered the gospel) rejecting Jesus rather than coming to him).
General revelation confronts all mankind with this issue, and from this standpoint hell appears as God's gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose, either to be with God forever, worshiping him, or without God forever, worshiping themselves. Those who are in hell will know not only that for their doings they deserve it, but also that in their hearts they chose it. – J. I. Packer, Concise Theology
No matter what you choose to believe, the reality of the Bible teaching, that hell and the Lake of Fire are real and places of judgment and punishment, can’t be denied. You can imagine ways that it no longer applies, or philosophy that God’s love over rules his justice, but you can’t make the Bible say something it does not.
Hell is real, the Bible declares it, Jesus preached it and you and I must be saved to avoid it. It really is that simple. - Pastor Kris Minefee