In the first article of this series I discussed the logic supporting hell’s existence, as well as what scripture says about its reality. In this second installment I will write about what hell is actually like, what scripture says about it, as well as some of the things we can assume lies there. As I said before, this article contains sensitive material. Moreover, this particular entry may disturb you.
Before I begin, let me clarify that if you are not a Christian and are lost, it is by no means my intention to scare or try to force you into conversion. But, everyone needs to be made aware of this stuff. It is real, and it is the most urgent matter in the universe. You need to know this, desperately.
First, we must understand this simple thing: hell is a place of torment. I think the first piece of Scripture we need to look at to understand hell must be a portion of Luke 16. It is the most complete look at hell we get in the entire Bible. And yet, few people even know this story exists. Read very carefully.
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31 NKJV)
The word ‘torment’ is used four times in this passage. If you do a quick Google search of the definition of the word, you will get this result:
1. severe physical or mental suffering
synonyms: agony, suffering, torture, pain, anguish, misery, distress, affliction, trauma,
This passage is a story told by Jesus Himself. Now many people argue whether or not it is a factual account, or it is another parable. However, in no other parable does Jesus give specific names. He uses the name Lazarus to describe a character, who was a real person. This Lazarus, of course, is not the same one who Jesus rose from the dead (Lazarus of Bethany).
Now let’s walk through this text. I’ll start with “Abraham’s Bosom.” However, I don’t want to spend too much time on this particular part. But for those of you who have never heard of it, this is place of waiting that existed for the righteous before Christ died and allowed people to enter Heaven. People like Moses, Job, Elijah, David, etc. all went here, as well as those Jews who were faithful to God. After all, why would someone like Moses or Job go to hell? Job was the definition of purity and meekness and Moses was the man from whom God built the foundation of the Judean religion. Matthew 17 gives us the story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, describing both Moses and Elijah as being present with Him on that mountain. So there is proof that they didn’t go to hell, a place with no relief or escape.
Basically, at this point in time hell was divided into two halves (hence the “chasm”). On one side we have the righteous people, resting in a place of comfort as they wait for Jesus to take them to heaven. On the other side, we have the fiery place where the sinners were cast.
When Christ looked to the thief on his right, He told Him that that day he would be alongside Him in Paradise. The original Greek of this word, “Paradise,” refers much more closely to this place, Abraham’s Bosom. Christ descends into this place after death and basically scoops it up and places it in heaven.
The Physical Experience of Hell
As the rich man descends into hell, which he describes as “torment,” the Scripture says that he “lifted his eyes and saw.” Not only this, but he can hear. He talks to Abraham. He can feel pain, and begs Abraham for relief. So, we can deduce that he is in possession of his senses. He is physically receptive to all of his surroundings.
The sights of hell
Jesus describes hell as a place of “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12). You are not blind, but your eyes become exhausted from deprivation. Without that place on the other side of the chasm, there is nothing to look at. It’s black. There is no light there. If you can see anything at all, it is probably something extremely horrible. Something horrific, traumatic, something that would make national news if it were on Earth. The torture, the anguish, the hurt, is unspeakable.
The Book of Revelation tells us that heaven has no sun because the Spirit of God is its light. There are no days or nights in heaven, because the Lamb constantly shines there. In my uncle’s sermon about hell, he so perfectly explains that the reason there is no light in hell is because the presence of God is gone. Like I said in the first part of the series, hell is separation from God. It is a separation which we choose. To be separate from God is also to be separate from light.
12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12)
The sounds of hell
In the same verse I pointed out earlier, Matthew 8:12, it talks about the sounds of hell. It describes “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” For just a moment, imagine what that sounds like. Hell is filled with billions of lost souls. Every soul of every man or woman who has ever walked the earth and not given their hearts over to God has fallen there. That’s quite a lot. Now imagine that each of them is weeping, gnashing their teeth, and more. Imagine that they are all screaming. The sounds. The volume. It must be deafening.
Have you ever been in so much pain that you just had to grit your teeth a bit? Like when you stub your toe, or even if you’ve ever been cut with anything sharp. Maybe you’ve broken something, or really had anything that’s put you in such pain that you just had to grit your teeth, grind them and wince. That’s what that is like.
A few years ago a popular story began to circulate across the internet. It told of a group of scientists who dug deep beneath the earth’s crust in Siberia and broke into a large open pocket of heat. The story goes on to tell that the scientists recorded the sounds of screaming coming beneath the earth’s crust. Now, this was later proven to be a hoax, but the recording is still haunting and definitely how I imagine hell to sound like. It is just a simulation, and the real thing is undoubtedly much worse, but if you’d like just a peak at what hell could possibly sound like, click here. WARNING: the audio is very, very disturbing.
Look again at this same verse in the Amplified Bible, which gives multiple English word equivalents to the Hebrew and Greek, allowing more clarity.
12 while the sons and heirs of the kingdom [the descendants of Abraham who will not recognize Me as Messiah] will be thrown out into the outer darkness; in that place [which is farthest removed from the kingdom] there will be weeping [in sorrow and pain] and grinding of teeth [in distress and anger].” (Matthew 8:12 AMP)
It includes words such as removed (separated) as well as sorrow, pain, distress, and anger. All of these words give more light to the deep torturous atmosphere of hell.
So why are all of those souls screaming? As we found earlier, hell is a place of torment. But what does that mean? Let’s take a look.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50 NKJV)
Again, Jesus describes the sounds of hell. He uses the word “wailing” this time. However, now He describes hell as a “furnace of fire.”
8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
Here the Bible describes it as a lake of fire. In my own experience, the Bible mentions hell as “the lake of fire” more times than not. Fire is quite obviously a part of this place and its essence entirely. This verse uses the word brimstone, which is sulfur. Might I also mention that sulfur itself has a horrible odor, and I can imagine it is so strong in hell that is becomes unbearable.
Let me just talk about fire for a moment. Have you ever been burnt before? As a child, did you ever daringly hold your finger anxiously against a candle flame, just to see what would happen? But of course, you regretted it. I remember once as a child I stuck my hand up to a light bulb and felt the hot sting pierce my soft toddler palm. My mother tells me of a time I was singed by a hot clothing iron, where I cried extensively afterward.
Fire is one of the most painful substances on the planet. In the dark ages, men and women who were about to be executed via burning at the stake would often times commit suicide before their execution, preferring a less painful death. I cannot imagine possessing such grave fear that I would feel the need to take my own life in order to escape something else. That seems unreal to me.
I can only imagine what it was like for the ones who didn’t kill themselves. To stand, bound and latched to a rock or a post, unable to move. You feel the heat drawing near you, and you drown in your own sweat. Your eyes fill with water as you feel the first licks of sparks hitting your toes. Soon, the heat consumes you. Smoldering temperatures of several hundreds of degrees engulf your entire body. Your clothes melt into you. You feel your skin drip off of you like wet paint, your muscles and fibers blazing and curling like paper. The only thing they have left is death. At this point, they beg for it. The screaming that involuntarily blasts from their bodies, perhaps even rupturing their vocal chords, is unthinkable. Many survivors of war tell us about how the sound of tortured screams never leaves them. They sill hear it in their nightmares. Such excruciating pain comes upon your body that you beg for death. Death looks like a million dollars to you.
But in hell, nobody dies.
You’re already dead. The burning only continues. And continues. And continues. There is no relief. As Luke 16:24 says, “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’” The rich man was in such great pain, such great physical torture, that even just ONE DROP of water would help him. He was so desperate for relief that he would be satisfied if one tiny drop of water hit his tongue. That’s it. One. Drop. Because he was tormented in the flame.
The Bottomless Pit
2 And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. (Revelation 9:2)
The Bible describes hell as a bottomless pit. Now, I’m going to borrow one of my uncle’s points here, wherein he states that humans needs two things in order to remain sane: light and solid. We already know that there is no light in hell. What about solid?
Think of those cases alongside the beach. A person is swimming, perhaps not paying much attention as they drift far off from the shoreline. The current snatches them. They’re caught out in the midst of the tides. Pulled out by the force of the water. They can’t touch anything, can’t feel anything. Nothing but water. They tread it, swimming and trying to push against the current. But after so many hours they just can’t. Their body is exhausted. Eventually they get pulled under. They drown.
Hell is a pit. Imagine what it’s like to fall from the world’s tallest skyscraper. I can only imagine what it was like choosing to jump from the World Trade Center during the September 11th attacks. Imagine you are falling from a cliff, or a ledge, or anything high up. Now, imagine that there is no ground. You just keep falling, and falling, and falling. Perhaps whooshed around, mixed up, pulled in different directions. You feel like a feather in a tornado. You try to gain stability but you just can’t.
That’s what hell is like. Endless, eternal falling. Falling in the pitch black, and in the fire that has no light. Immense heat, your body plummeting at free-fall. It’s all happening so fast. Over and over again. Never ending. You begin to grow tired.
I’m sure we’ve all had our days when we’re out working hard. Our body just isn’t cooperating. Your back feels like it could split in two. A piercing headache chops your head in half and your legs are weak and shaky from the aches and pains of a hard day’s work. You’re exhausted and you think to yourself, “Man, I can’t wait to hop in bed when I get home.” But what if that relief never happened? What if you just kept feeling that way, and worse? In hell, there is no rest.
11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:11)
You can tell yourself that even if hell is real, you’ll go down and not regret a thing about your current life. But when metal meets metal, and you lift your eyes in the midst of the torment I’ve described, you’ll beg for relief. It’ll be too much. Even the mightiest of men will be reduced to squabbling babies in this place. Earth might have broke you, but hell will melt you.
If you wake up in hell, you will immediately be made humble. You will go through every memory where you bumped into a Christian and didn’t ask them about Jesus. You will look back on those few church services you were invited to that you ignored. Or the time you did attend a church service and you walked away unsaved. The opportunity was before you. The seed was planted. But you walked away, rejecting the Lord. These memories will play over and over again as you beg that they had only been different. If only you had gotten saved. If only you had accepted Jesus into your heart. If only you had done this and that. Whatever it may be.
And you will resent the few Christians who didn’t tell you about the gospel, and who didn’t tell you how to get saved. You will resent them for being too awkward or afraid to say something that could’ve saved them from this. This is why it’s so important for us as Christians to witness to unbelievers, so that their blood is not on our hands. Because we could’ve had the chance to facilitate their salvation, and help rescue them from this world of hurt. But we didn’t. We were too afraid of what other people would think about us.
It will be too late to ask Jesus into your heart once you’re in hell. God doesn’t listen to that place. You have a limited time on earth. Make the most of it. You have every opportunity in the world to turn to God. So use those opportunities. In reading this article, you have made the grandest mistake in all of your existence. Now, you are accountable. If you go to hell, it is entirely your doing. I have warned you. Your blood is no longer on my hands.
The rich man in Luke 16 tells Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers about hell. I can imagine that the people who are anguishing there right now are thinking about their loved ones. All the fallen mothers out there are desperate to keep their kids from going there. The brothers and sisters each hope their sibling doesn’t make the same mistakes they did. They don’t want to hear their loved one’s screams down there. The people down there are praying that a Christian comes to visit their relatives. Those billions of people are down there hoping that their families choose Christ.
The atheists, satanists, agnostics, evolutionists, new agers, Buddhists, Muslims, etc. are all wishing they had just listened and followed Christ. They think to themselves, “why did I have to be so stubborn? I knew about Christ, I heard the Christians preach the gospel, and yet I still didn’t turn to Him!” The news of Christ has reached the entire globe. Everyone has heard his gospel to some capacity.
Go to heaven with your family. Choose God for all of you.
The Hopeless Eternity
There is no hope in hell. Like I said earlier, there’s no relief and no rest. You can’t say to yourself, “I can’t wait till I get a chance to rest,” because no such thing exists anymore. You can’t sit and catch a break. You’re never going to experience a moment that isn’t pain-filled. The moment you enter hell, you can easily predict that you will be in just as much pain, if not more, in a year than you are at that moment. And likewise, since you are there for eternity, it will be the same in fifty years, one hundred years, and two hundred years. You will still be there.
We often do not think about what eternity means. We don’t spend too much time thinking beyond our lives on earth. We need to realize that once we die, that’s not the end. Truthfully, we never die.
Let me rephrase. Yes, we die. But we are never destroyed.
Our souls continue to exist for thousands of years. And our souls will still be in existence for millions, billions, trillions of years. Our souls will exist as long as God does, for He has said that the wicked will be punished “for ever and ever” and the righteous will live peacefully in heaven “for ever and ever.” That’s a long time. That includes quintillions of years. That’s an enormous number that we don’t even understand the reality of. But it’s true. We continue to exist for aeons in the future, an amount of days that is incalculable and cannot be numbered. Now, would you rather spend those days in happiness and joy or in torture and suffering?
Some might think, “well, if I’m in hell that long, wouldn’t I just get used to the pain, even to the point I didn’t mind anymore?” The Bible tells us that for us Christians, the Father’s mercies are new every morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23). Conversely, I assume that the heartbreak and agonies are new every morning in hell. You will never get used to it. It will only get worse and worse.
So what does happen? I personally find this next bit to be the most heartbreaking part of all of this.
I want to tell you about something that takes place on Earth called White Room Torture. It is a method of modern psychological torture used by various government agencies across the world when trying to extract information from terrorists or war criminals. During this type of torture, they will dress you in white clothing and put you in an all white colored room. If there is anything in the room at all, it is colored white. Everything is the same color and the same shade of the same color. Even the food which is served is white rice.
The cell is muted and quiet. The guards on the outside of the door wear padded slippers to muffle the sounds of their feet. The only sounds you can hear within the cell are those made by yourself. You are isolated. There is no communication. Nothing.
Victims who have undergone prolonged exposure to this kind of torture have been reported as to have lost their minds. They begin to hallucinate. Their personality begins to change.
Many forget their own names.
They lose their memories, they forget who they are. They lose their minds. And hell is much worse. Everything in hell is the same color: black. Instead of there being no noise, there is too much noise: screaming. No solid ground and constant pain. After so many hundreds of years, the lost soul has been transformed by the tides of the lake of fire. He or she has been molded into something lifeless and sad, containing nothing of its past self. It was once a person, a human being, but now it doesn’t even know that. In hell, you lose your individuality amidst the tempest of souls. Now, you simply exist. There is no purpose to your existence, but you simply have it. All you feel is pain, and eventually it is all you know. Pain.
But I think one of the greatest pains of all is to finally know God exists, but then be cast away by Him. All because you wouldn’t let Him love you. Imagine the day you stand in judgment before the Lord as He decides your destination. You feel your stomach sink to your feet and the color drain from your face as He says to you:
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23)
The most terrifying words in all of the universe.
Depart from Me. I never knew you.