by Ankit Das
November 11, 2022
Hell is Real
The question about the existence of hell can be an old-school thought for some of the millennial age groups. Some won’t be bothered to think and talk about it. Among some new-age contemporary church movements (both in North America and South Asia), preachers, and church participants would not want to discuss the critical subject of hell. They would go with the motto of a feel-good generation that avoids talking about subjects like hell. They would not discuss hell because it would scare people from the church.
Other religious movements like Hinduism and Buddhism would teach reincarnation. Presenting another way of escaping the unpleasant doctrine of hell. A false hope in context with the Christian faith that explicitly mentions eternal punishment in the lake of fire for the wicked. So, Christians who believe in the Sola scriptures, shouldn’t avoid the topic of hell. They must give themselves to an investigation through the studying of the biblical scriptures that frequently talk about the existence of hell.
Jesus on Hell: Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his most famous sermon spoke about hell, which is Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom. A place where human sacrifices were made to the Ammonite god Molech during the reign period of Ahaz and Manasseh. So, Jesus used the ready-made designation for hell so that when he mentions Gehenna, his audience would understand that he is figuratively explaining the destiny of the wicked.
Matt 5:22 ESV; “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
"Hell is the destiny of the wicked who will reject God." J.I Packer
Spiritual Experience of Hell: It is also quite evident that in our contemporary settings, some people can explain hell through a vision seen of hell so we may not be able to claim them wrong. However, such visions have no authority to form any doctrines on the suffering or descriptions of hell. But we could certainly express hell from a spiritual perspective in context with resisting God because of our ongoing sinful nature that rebels against God. In those times we experience separation from God's peace. This separation may not be permanent because God does restore his relationship with us when we confess our sins with true repentance. In the meantime, that separation makes us feel miserable because of our sins. Certainly, because the peace of God is no more evident in our lives. We also lose joy and divine rest that works through the presence of God when we are obedient to the work of the Spirit that gives life. Thus, for some people this phrase may sound familiar “my life is like a hell without God."
A Tormenting Place
Suffering in Hell: We all have experienced suffering to some extent. However, these sufferings are not meant forever. Medically and divinely, we can experience the healing that can restore these elements of suffering. Sometimes suffering can be forever in our earthly bodies. For instance, a person who was chronically ill and suffered sickness until his death. However, when it comes to eternal blessings and eternal sufferings, it won’t be seasonal or forever. But eternal blessings or eternal punishment will last forever.
So, in that context, it becomes critical to understand that hell will be a place of eternal torment. Where there will be darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 8:12, 22:13; 25:30). The “darkness” in hell reflects that God will completely withdraw his joy from the people who will be punished in hell. Also, “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in the text reflects grief, pain, and distress because of separation from God which would eventually lead to sorrow and anguish.
“Hell is a place where we do not want to go because it's a place of unpeaceable pain and torment." R.C Sproul
In the other text (Rev 20:10) “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” the expression of being tormented in hell can be seen concerning a person suffering from severe distress in hell. Another expression, in (2Thess 1:9), “away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might,” would reveal the wicked not receiving any more benefits from God. Which means that they will suffer the absence of God’s benevolence.  But this doesn’t mean that God’s presence will be completely withdrawn (Ps 139:7-8). RC Sproul would explain that God would be present in hell with His judgement, and He is there with His punitive wrath. 
Revelation 14:1"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.”
Louis Berkhof points out that hell may include (1) “a total absence of the favour of God, (2) an endless disturbance of life because of the complete domination of sin, (3) positive pain and suffering in body and soul (4) punishments as pangs of conscience, anguish, despair, weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
On the other hand, we can’t express much more description of hell if we don’t have any biblical evidence. Even with the biblical images of hell, it would be right to conclude and reflect that we can’t be too descriptive about hell. We know one thing for sure according to the biblical truth that hell exists and is a place of everlasting torment.
Critical Analysis of the Doctrine of Annihilationism
Denial of Eternal Suffering: The doctrine of Annihilationism would deny the wicked eternal suffering perspective with an understanding that they will just disappear after their eternal consequences. Clark Pinnock suggested that the God of love can’t continue to torture people forever for their sins and this doesn’t make any sense. So, he wants the evangelicals to contemplate that it's appropriate to start that the doctrine of hell is annihilation, not eternal punishment. 
One of the influential forefathers of Annihilation who supported this doctrine was Irenaeus of Lyons who also emphasizes that the righteous will inherit eternal life because of Christ, but the wicked would face death and would eventually disappear.
Biblical Evidence on the Eternal Punishment: These arguments in support of Annihilationism sound attractive. It reveals human sympathy towards a people group who reject God forever and because of God’s goodness and love, they will not face eternal punishment. This is certainly not a bad reflection. However, if that is the case, then the doctrinal position of hell wouldn’t be interpreted in the light of biblical truth. The doctrinal position of Annihilationism would sound more like an emotional exegesis of the text. Therefore, it would be important to see the Biblical scriptures in a more literal way that would highlight the eternal punishment of the wicked.
Revelation 14:11 is one of the most graphic pictures about the everlasting punishment for the wicked, “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.”
Revelation 20:10 “they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” which would also refer to an ongoing torment forever. Not just any kind of periodic discipline.
Also, the word used “destroy” used in (Matt 10:28) shouldn’t naturally imply Annihilation. We need to be aware of the context that would give the meaning of the word used in the text. For instance, in the scriptures where the word used “destroy” or “destruction” may not mean the destruction of something in a complete sense because that thing would still exist. For instance, during the times of Noah when the World was destroyed by flood, we can note that the World was not completely destroyed because it still existed “and that through these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished” 2 Peter 3:6. So, it would be important to understand the author's intention with an interpretation that supports the idea of the word, “destroy,” which may not be where the destruction of the wicked would cease to exist.
We Must Preach the Gospel to the Lost
There is No Other Way: In Acts 4:12, the author makes it clear that Christ is the only way to Salvation “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Some modern Christians would hesitate in proclaiming this truth exclusively. They would compromise with a reflection that they don’t know if there would be any other ways to God. Some would even say that there could be more ways to God. Such views are biblically incorrect. They strongly contradict the biblical doctrine of Salvation.
So, if our faith is based on the biblical scripture then we must believe, profess, preach, and teach about Christ who offers salvation. That Salvation saves a sinner from the coming wrath of God “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming,” Colossians 3:5-6. Therefore, it is important for the followers of Christ to take the subject of hell seriously as many would be destroyed by eternal punishment if they don’t respond to the gospel truths.
But how would the lost people respond to the Gospel if they wouldn't hear it? Apostle Paul would mention in the Epistles to the Romans 10:12-15 “how then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” So, it is important that the disciples of Jesus Christ carry the good news to lost souls so that they will be saved.
From our theological investigation on hell, it would be definite to conclude that Hell exists, it would be hard for anyone to explain the other elements of hell like where hell exists, and what it would be really like. But biblically and theologically we have evidence about the existence of hell and its eternal torment. It is also important to conclude that hell would be a tormenting place that will exist forever for all those people who were not saved in Christ Jesus.
Their punishment would be everlasting. There would be no escape from eternal punishment. Their conscious suffering will go on forever and ever. These views are not man-made. But are explicitly mentioned in the New Testament Scriptures.
For that reason, the disciples of the Kingdom should be full of compassion for the lost souls. Because these unreached people would end up in the eternal lake of fire if they would not hear and receive the good news of Jesus Christ. And how would they hear the good news if the disciples of Christ would not go out and preach the gospel?
 Robert A. Peterson, Hell on Trial: The case for Eternal Punishment Phillipsburg, New Jersey (P&R,
 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1992), 196.
 Grant R. Osborne. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Edited by Clinton E. Arnold (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 293.
 R.C. Sproul. Unseen Realities: Heaven, Hell, Angels, Demons (Paperback, 2011), 42
 Sproul, 43.
 Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology. Louisville, Kentucky (GLH, 2017), 176.
 David Edwards, Evangelical Essentials: With A Response from John Stott. Downers Grove, IL (IVP,
 Mark L. Strauss, The Campaign to Eliminate Hell. May 16, 2016. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/160513-theology-hell-history-christianity (accessed October 16, 2022).
picture credits: netfalls