The Real Nature of Hell

Who is hell for; what’s it like; and what can we do about it? Jesus talked about hell 33 times in the New Testament. He talked more about hell than He did about heaven. So why don’t we hear much about hell in churches today?

Jesus was filled with compassion about not wanting people to go there, so He covered the subject quite a bit. The Bible talks about hell 167 times, and yet many pastors will never preach on it. Some even deny the existence of it. If you don’t believe in a literal hell, then you can’t believe in a literal heaven. The same Bible teaches us about both! There are two basic people that don’t believe in hell:

1) Atheists – they don’t believe in hell, because they don’t believe in God. They believe that we evolved from nothing and once we die, we cease to exist. In order to make the statement, “There is no God,” you would have to possess “all” knowledge and no one does except God. The Bible says that “Only a fool says there is not God!”

2) Universalists – they take free-will out of the equation because Jesus died for everyone and paid the price, which He did, but because of that, everyone goes to heaven. Here is the huge problem with that thinking: If it makes no difference how we live while on earth, then why even have the Word of God to live by? That is total foolishness!

The story we are about to read is not a parable as some may think, but a real story with real people.

Luke 16:19 – “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. (Verse 20) “But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, (Verse 21) “desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. (Verse 22) “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. (Abraham was a real person, so again, this is a real story about real people.) The rich man also died and was buried. (Verse 23) “And being in torment in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 

(Verse 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. (Verse 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. (Verse 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.’

(Verse 27) “Then he said, ‘I beg you, therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, (Verse 28) ‘for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ (Verse 29) “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ (Verse 30) “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ (Verse 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.’ “

This Scripture should end all controversy on the existence of hell. This also should end all debate that hell is a place of fire and torment. Jesus is the One who said it. And according to this Scripture, we can determine what goes on when a person is in hell.

They Desire Comfort

The rich man wanted just a drop of water because he was tormented in the flame. People need to remember, hell was not created for people. According to Isaiah Chapter 5, hell was created for the devil and his angels, but because of man’s wickedness, hell was enlarged.

Matthew 25:41 – “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: (Jesus prepared heaven for all believers and doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.)

They Will Express Concern For Others Not To Come There

The rich man wanted Abraham to send someone to his brothers to tell them not to come there. At one time or for all eternity, a person in hell will hope their kids or any friends or family will not come there. I wonder how many people will try to remember if anyone told them about Jesus while they lived. Many will remember all the times Christians tried to tell them about Jesus and they rejected Him.

They Will Seek Consolation

The rich man tries to convince himself that maybe if someone would rise form the dead and go tell his brothers they would believe. Abraham told him, “They have Moses and the prophets.” Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament and the Prophets wrote the other books. And at this point when Abraham says this, there is no New Testament written yet. So if they won’t believe what already has been written, they won’t believe even one that has risen from the grave.

This story of the rich man is describing hell before the resurrection of Christ. Every person that died before Christ died and rose, went to a place of waiting. There were two compartments with a “gulf” between them. One was hell, where people were tormented and the other was what is described as “Abraham’s bosom.” That was a place for Old Testament saints. The Bible tells us that when Christ died, He descended into the lower parts of the earth and led the captives out.

There is also a future hell after the second coming. This will be the hell for all eternity. People need to understand what this hell will be like so they will never go there.

There will be no light in hell anywhere! The Bible describes hell as total darkness. Total blackness and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Also, you will never see or talk to anyone ever again. The only reason the rich man was able to talk to Abraham was that it was before the resurrection.

However, there is light in heaven because the Lamb is the light, no need for the sun or moon. God’s presence is light. Light and a solid surface help us keep our foundation and balance while living on this earth. In hell, there will be nothing to stand on. There will be nothing to stabilize and keep a person’s bearings. They will never touch anything or anyone again. Think long and hard about that one.

There are two emotional properties that also keep us stable on this earth: Rest and hope! Yes, rest is a physical property, but it’s also an emotional property. Rest keeps us emotionally stable. People get grouchy when they are either physically tired or mentally tired.

Revelation 14:11 – “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.”

The second emotional property is there is no hope in hell. While living on this earth, we always have hope that things will get better, but in hell, all hope of ever escaping is gone.

All through the Bible, we are given a choice to either follow God and His ways or go our own way. So, whose responsibility is it to tell those who don’t believe, that there is a real hell and if they don’t choose Christ they will spend eternity in hell without God? It’s the responsibility of every believer!


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