Sunday, September 9, 2012

What is Hell Like?

When I was growing up, I heard angry adults curse others using this statement: Go to Hell! I heard adults telling others that so-and-so were going to Hell. I heard it preached from the pulpit even - those who leave our group are going to Hell. Scary.

I don’t recall anyone ever saying these three words to me (though I've been told that people said those words about me). And I don’t believe I’ve ever uttered these words to anyone else. But, if I am mistaken about this, I am deeply and utterly sorry for having said it.

Now that I’m “out in the world” there are many more ways people – most of whom do not even believe in Hell – curse each other. I’m sure you can imagine the expletives, so I will not bother repeating them. But the worst thing a person can say, in my opinion, to another is “Go to Hell.” It’s unthinkable. I do not want to go to Hell, and I do not want anyone else to go either.

I am terrified of Hell. It's a terrible place, the worst place any of us can imagine is better than Hell. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Where is Hell?

Do you wonder where Hell is? Scripture implies that Hell is located at the center of the Earth:

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Matthew 12:40

What is Hell Like?

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.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:10-15

* * * 

And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:50

Hell is eternal suffering and punishment. No rest. No relief. The worst kinds of pain inflicted upon you day and night for all of eternity. Terrible.

It has become a popular theory to say that Hell is not real. That our lives on this Earth are already “hell.” Many folks will say “how can a loving God and Father inflict this on his creation?” It just can’t be real. But, I believe that it is real. I believe that souls are eternal and each person makes a choice of how they will spend eternity by the choices they make.

Here is what some of my friends think about Hell:

        “It’s whatever you hate the most. If you hate annoying conversations, that’s your eternal destiny.”

“Being separated from your family and those you love.”

“Utter despair, fear, and darkness because it is complete separation from God. No cliches... No pitchfork or scales. Just utter despair and fear because of complete absence of hope and joy.

“Reliving mistakes, forever, without being able to change them.

“Unquenchable heat, thirst, pain, anguish...

"The absence of God"

“Realization of missed opportunities and wrongs you have done others.

“Permanent death of the soul and no memory of that soul with the living. Everyone wants to believe they will always exist but no life exists apart from the sustaining power of the creator.

“When I think about Hell, I picture the scene from the movie “What Dreams May Come” with Robin Williams”

“I think of Dante’s Inferno”

“After I hide from God for my sins and let the rocks fall on me then stood before God ashamed and broken, then It would be dark and cold filled with demons that Lear at me while I toil burning and in pain filling the ever burning fire"

I asked my old schoolmate, Chad Smith, to create a scene of Hell, from a description of my worst nightmares – eternal torment, the lake of fire, skin melting off, demons and Satan. Here is what he came up with:

Illustration by Chad Smith who Tweets at @MrNoodle

It’s too easy to dismiss Hell as not real. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about billions of souls in eternal torment. But, if Jesus is real and God is real, then Hell is too. I think people who don't believe in Hell or who have never feared Hell cannot fully appreciate the gift of Jesus' sacrifice for our salvation.

Recommended reading: A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary K Baxter 

Recommended listening: Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God a podcast of the preacher Mark Dever delivering John Edwards’s famous 1741 sermon.

I'm interested in knowing what you think Hell is like.


  1. Apostle Peter in his Apocalypse described how hell would be for the wicked before their final judgement: of women who had abortions it was described "their children stand opposite them in a place of delight, and sigh and cry to God because of their parents saying, ‘These are they who despised and cursed and transgressed your commandments and delivered us to death: they have cursed the angel that formed us and have hanged us up and begrudged us the light which you have given to all creatures. And the milk of their mothers flowing from their breasts shall congeal and from it shall come beasts devouring flesh, which shall come forth and turn and torment them for ever with their husbands because they forsook the commandments of God and slew their children. As for their children, they shall be delivered..."; and again concerning them "who caused the martyrs to die by their lying" it was said by him that they "shall have their lips cut off; and fire enters into their mouth and their entrails..."

    There are other sins and other torments described but the plain message was that all sin would be punished in a manner befitting the crime(s). That the only way to avoid this outcome was to repent from wickedness before it is too late and the wrath of God was upon mankind.


    1. The Apocalypse of Peter is not part of the bible.

    2. Darren, you are from the Church of the Firstborn which is a King James bible only church correct? I am a little surprised that you would post text from the Apocalypse of Peter without mentioning that it is not in the bible.

    3. As astute readers have noticed. The Apocalypse of Peter is not part of the KJV and is not part of the modern bible, nor is it accepted as scripture. It is at least though at minimim a historical work which shows how the earliest Christians viewed hell.


    4. kind of weird if you ask me

  2. Depends on what part of it you’re in.In the 7th depths of it. It is a world of ruthless realities: particularly harsh, narcosis, barren, and inhospitable... Nasty… temperature above four thousand degrees Fahrenheit or more. Not exactly a vacation place… Not unless you like to be flayed to the raw nerve.

  3. The bible says that we should each seek our own salvation with fear and trembling, which tells me that we should each have a taste of hell in our pursuit of paradise. This is symbolic of Christ's suffering and death, and our salvation is brought about by way of his resurrection, which was the victory over death.

    All of the images we associate with suffering, death and the horrors of the grave are probably all applicable, and I'm sure that there are many more of which we haven't and possibly can't conceive, let alone visualize.

  4. I do not believe that we should "each have a taste of hell in our pursuit of paradise..." The chapter where the verse about working out you salvation with fear and trembling, begins with instruction to love each other and act with humility. We will suffer, not so that we can be saved through suffering, but because we live in a fallen world.

    Fire and brim stone messages about hell, if someone responds to it, they will be obedient to God out of fear. The gospel message however, will cause people to respond out of love not fear. The bible says God is love and a response to follow Christ out of love is much more real and honest than a response out of fear.

  5. Hell is where I do not want to go.
    Hell is a bad place for bad people.
    Hell is without love.
    and is forever.

  6. Hell is where i thought i was going for many years after i left church. i didn't believe i was lovable or worthy for god's love. i believed that the church was the only way to heaven and by leaving i was choosing to be damned for eternity.

    1. You believed that because that is what they teach, or at least did teach when the elders were there.

  7. Again, the bible says we must each seek out salvation with fear and trembling. This tells me that on some level we have to acknowledge what we truly deserve in order to know enough to have the good sense to seek salvation to begin with, and to remain humbled while there is still time, since this is in accordance with true confession and repentance.

    The bible also says that "love casts out all fear", which is also a rather apt description of the act of salvation. When we are saved, we no longer fear for ourselves or our safety because it has been cast out from our presence. Seeking salvation is a very selfish act, but necessary in order to fulfill our obligation to love our neighbors as ourselves, and as a step towards the selflessness we need to develop in order to hold the salvation of others as being equal in importance to our own. And remember, loving our neighbors is, according to Christ's own words, second in importance only to loving God above all else. He just gives us a little breathing room in there to receive His love and turn it inwards and be sustained and nourished by it before passing it on, but not so much room that we receive personal mention. IOW, the commandment is to love God, then to love our neighbors rather than love God, love ourselves and seek salvation, then love our neighbors. He didn't have to include that step - he knows what kind of self-serving sinners we are, but He is merciful enough to give us the wiggle room to do so before sending us out to serve Him.

    No one seeks salvation unless they need it (are afraid). In a perfect world, we would all like to think of ourselves as good little Christians, wisely and voluntarily laying down their burdens and taking up the cross, but the fact remains that in the real world, no one would ever think to seek help unless and until they really need it, and often much later than they should have.

    In the fallen world in which we live, love exists in the presence of fear. The promise is that in time we will be sorted out for eternity in heaven; the flip side is the threat of eternal damnation. The two are inseparable until all has been fulfilled by the will of God according to His pleasure. Love/fear is the double-edged sword mentioned in Hebrews.

    As such, those condemned to death will be given a small taste of heaven in this life before going on to their reward, but those who choose salvation will experience a brief sampling of Hell before going to their glory, as in the symbolism of Christ being given a drink of vinegar during his crucifixion, which then became sweet water after passing through his body.

    It is not my intention to preach fire and brimstone; I simply wished to set forth my response to the question of what Hell is like according to what the bible states on the subject. My apologies for giving you the wrong impression.

  8. I have to say that as much as all of you want to spread your "good news", you turn me completely off religion. You all sound exactly the same! Everyone fighting fervently over the slightest difference in interpretation yet every single one of you believe whole heartedly that your way is the only way and every one else is wrong. Don't you see that you are really no different than the FOC in that?

    1. Do you agree that reality is the state of things as they actually exist; not as people wish them to be? People once thought that the earth was flat but it didn't make it true. God is no different. He is what he is, and he is, unchangable by ones perception of him. There is: one god, one way, one existence, that is unchangable.
      If you are implying that god made life to have mystery that many people are not solving correctly; or for that matter, not even coming close to solving correctly, you are correct (there are things we do not understand; they exist none the less) there is one true constant of existence: nothing unreal exist.

    2. I do not believe my way is the only or any way. The bible says Jesus is the way. The FOC says their church is the way. Jesus said He is the vine. The FOC have said they are the vine. The FOC believe it is all about them. I believe it is all about Jesus.

      So I think it is a good thing that you are turned off from religion, but hope comes when people realize it is not about them, their rules, doctrines or their religion, but being a Christian is about knowing and worshiping Jesus.

      Jesus was also turned off religion of His day as you can see Him constantly rebuking the religious leaders of the day.

  9. A respectful conversation about opinion is what the FOC is lacking. That's what your seeing, people throwing out their version of what they feel.

  10. We're all sinners, that's why we all fall to the same errors.


    2. I don't know how you can disagree but I would like to hear your argument.

    3. I agree that all man-kind was born into sin: because we have a part of a fallen angel in us bing born into this world (Satan)
      I disagree that after we recive the holy ghost we continue to sin because the holy ghost cannot dwell in any unclean creature. Jesus died so we would be able to put away sin forever.
      Heb10:26 "for if we sin wilfully after that we have recived the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin,
      Heb10:27 "But a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
      Heb10:28 "He that dispised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses."
      Heb10.28 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be worthy, who hath trodden under foot the son of god, and hath counted the blood of the coventant, wherewith he was sactified, an unholy thing, and have done despite unto the spirit of grace?
      Any one who says you can keep sinning after you have been baptized, is wrong. And to be quite candid about it, their a pretty poor excuse for a Christian to say you can't be perfect, because men like Job were able to be perfect in a time when there was no hope, no law, and all they had was faith in god.
      When men try to tell god that they couldn't serve him perfectly, i'm sure he'll say: you served Satan perfectly.

    4. Anon,
      Thank you for explaining your understanding of perfection. It is well taken and I can see how you have come to this understanding. If I may put forth another thought on the matter, there is much teaching in the New Testament about the process of sanctification. Sanctification (as I understand it) is a progressive work of God and man that makes Christians more and more like Christ and free from sin in our actual lives. It begins at conversion, continues throughout life and ends at death.
      The problem we have is sin still remains in our hearts even after we become Christians.

      Romans 6:12–13
      12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

      Paul is saying the desire for believers to sin is still there. Now if you define sin as just an action then you could say it’s okay to think about sin, just don’t act upon those thoughts. But sin is more than just what you do. That’s why Jesus said to look upon a woman with lust is the same as adultery because the crime has been committed in your heart.

      1 John 1:8
      8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

      Even the elderly apostle John understood that sin was a part of his life, and he argues against the idea of viewing yourself without sin.
      I totally agree that Christians are never labeled as sinners in the bible; they are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood and God’s special people. But they are still being sanctified and will continue to struggle with sin in this lifetime.

  11. Everyone here should read "Damned" by Chuck Palahniuk.

    And also, what's up with all of the "Anonymous" comments? Doesn't anyone have the guts to attach their name to their opinions?

    1. Anonymity is good thing to have sometimes in this business.

    2. Anonymity is a good thing here because the FOC has a hit man that will find you and beat you up for posting bad things about them. In fact it has already happened more than once and, although no one has been killed, there have been some former members seriously injured. I could post a picture of myself with my broken nose, but then you would know who I am. Fortunately I am highly trained in martial arts and have only suffered a broken nose. So keep posting anonymously because you may be at risk if you post your name. In fact you may want to contact the US Marshall's office about the federal witness protection program if you plan to use your name. They have a almost perfect record of protecting people that come forward.

    3. Not all people that call them-selfs Christians are... Having a hit man that will come and beat you up is absolutly absurd (no relation to human life whatsoever)and is a indication that Satan has who ever does that: under contract...
      I believe that what you are saying is true to a extent; but a little exaggerated. from my past experience: when things like that happened, it was usaley unilateral action taken by a few people, and not the entire group. However people that have the god syndrome (thinkin they are godly and are not) are some of the most nefarious people on earth; so you could be telling the truth...

    4. You must not have a sense of humor. Or maybe you are just a little slow.

    5. Please be more specific as to what you mean by those 2 statements that you made about me.

    6. "Anonymity is good thing to have sometimes in this business."

      In which business? Christianity? Something else? Please explain; your comment doesn't make sense to me.

      "Anonymity is a good thing here because the FOC has a hit man that will find you and beat you up for posting bad things about them..."

      Crazy. Is this the business that the other Anonymous was referring to: saying bad things about the FOC?

      I have to admit, I don't know the first thing about the FOC. I arrived on this page because a friend of mine drew the picture of Hell and I wanted to see it. Then I started reading. Perhaps that was my first mistake. Regardless, I wish everyone who needs to remain anonymous due to being a former FOC member a healthy, anonymous, and hit-man-free life. Sounds like everyone should join something a little less risky, like the Sons of Anarchy.

      Regardless, pick up a copy of "Damned." It's a fun book.

  12. Suzanne... The church you used to go to was in Oregan City, yet in all the past church directories, and the one that is of the hear and now; i can find no church in Oregan City. Can you plz elaborate as to why the church there never made the church directory?

    1. They would opt out of church directories because they do not permit newcomers to join. Due to that policy, they have lost their non-profit status.

      The Followers of Christ church is still operating next to the Fire Station on Molalla Ave in Oregon City (there is a storage place on one side of it and some small business - including, I think, Starbucks on the other).

  13. It won't be found in a "church" directory. It's not a "church". Putting it in a church directory might cause a stranger to think that it's a church , a welcoming place that you can go to commune with other God loving Christians. This place is not one of those.

  14. I think it's interesting what one of the Anonymous writers said about not being a sinner, citing Job as perfect, which the OT also does in its text. However, I think that this was a reference to what was observable from the outside insofar as his actions and attitudes were seen by other, yet after his trial, he said, "For I know that my redeemer lives".

    Why would a person who never sins need a redeemer?

    The point of the whole story of Job was that even the seemingly perfect have their own shortcomings to resolve with God, but that if a person will persevere in their faith, they can and will be delivered.

    It's true that the NT tells us to "be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect", but I always took that as an indication that we should accept ourselves as God made us, and accept the work that Christ said that he would do in each of us until the day of Christ.

    If the FOC (or members of any other group, for that matter) do not sin, then why would they ever accept suffering and death as a means of entering heaven, even to the point of abstaining from medical intervention?

    To say that we have accepted Christ and therefore no longer sin is giving Christ credit for the power he possesses, but also it's putting confidence in the flesh, which is a BIG mistake. So long as we wear meat suits, we're going to sin, if only in our hearts and minds (anger, jealousy, vengeance, hatred, etc), until that day when we receive the perfect bodies that we've been promised. If we were without sin and error, we would not await Christ's return, we would not have issues with others but would live in complete peace with all mankind. I don't know about anyone else, but I sure can't see that anywhere in the world from where I'm sitting.

    I am a sinner, and Christ loves even me. That, to me, is the real miracle of all time. I'm not the worst of sinners...I'm not even the best. I'm just one in a hundred million gazillion blank-faced sinners, but he cared enough to single me out and save me. THAT's something worth sharing, in my book.

    1. Job was not "seemingly perfect", he was perfect according to the scripture and there was no sin or spiritual weakness found in him by God. Those that rebuked him for his "hidden sins" were in fact rebuked by God for stating so. Job even praying for their well being after God's wrath toward them was made known. Still Job was contained in an imperfect fleshly body that would succumb to diseases and eventually die. It was in reference to this fact that he stated "For I know that my redeemer liveth...yet in my flesh I shall see God."

      Perfect or not we are all in a state of physical imperfection and need redemption. Another way to think of it is even if we had attained a full spiritual perfection, we would only be fulfilling our original obligation to God, he is still not obliged to grant us anything, except that we know by faith he has extended this grace to us.


  15. Beautifully said, I'd any thinks he's not a sinner, that may be the biggest sin of all.


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