Pages 27-31 of my book The Salvation Meter – Biblical Self-Diagnostic Test to Examine Your Salvation and Spiritual Growth present an article entitled, “Hell is Unimaginably Too Awful in Which to Spend Eternity,” which is one of the six persuasive reasons a person should use The Salvation Meter. This article is a revision of the above article. There are two basic reasons I revised the published article.
First, a sermon is never finished, merely preached. In the same way, there will always be ways and a need to revise and improve the discussion of this crucial reason why a person should use The Salvation Meter. Hopefully, this revision will give the book a “dynamic” aspect rather than remain “static.”
Second, this revision contains more detailed information and discussion than in the book. Through these additional materials, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches, preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test to appreciate better the importance of this reason to use The Salvation Meter book.
In an article entitled “The Awful Reality of Hell” (see The Awful Reality of Hell | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org | Reformed Bible Studies & Devotionals at Ligonier.org), Ligonier Ministries presents a brief history of the “demise” of hell:
The doctrine of eternal punishment, though unpopular and frightening, is found as a part of the confession of every branch of the Christian church. It has only been in the last century that under the influence of liberalism some have denied the reality of hell. There was a time when preachers proclaimed that “man is very bad and God is really mad.” In those days there was revival, and the church was strong and influential. Then in the nineteenth century it was decided that “man is not so bad, and God surely is not mad.” We reap the rewards of this spineless “Christianity” in society today.
Even though many do not want to think much about hell or preachers do not want to preach often on hell, the fact is that hell is real! Jesus spoke a lot about the reality of hell. While some they may not think of it this way, a preacher who does not preach about hell and eternal punishment must hate the lost people within the sound of his voice.
What is incredibly terrifying about hell is that hell is forever without end. There is no chance for parole or pardon from the torment of hell. Once a person is there, they eternally exist without any hope of relief whatsoever.
There is no way to cross from hell to heaven. What Luke wrote in Luke 16:22–31 about Jesus’ description of the poor man, and Lazarus proves there is no bridge between hell and heaven. Verse 26 (ASV 1901) is the relevant part of this passage, and it reads:
26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us.
The ASV 1901 translates the Greek words chasma mega as “a great gulf,” which conveys a vast gulf or chasm. Travel between heaven and hell does not exist because a chasma mega has firmly fixed in place. The fixing of this great gulf was completed in the past and still exists today and forever. No construction company in the world can build a bridge that spans the chasma mega. The separation between heaven and hell is permanent and forever.
The account of Lazarus and the rich man also shows that every person in Hell will possess cognitive thinking abilities. The word “cognitive“ refers to the thought process (cognition) by which one is aware or by which one gains or applies knowledge. This includes intuition, perception, reasoning, and judgment. Everyone in hell will have a physical body. Note that the rich man has eyes with which he sees (v. 23) and a tongue (v. 24) with which he speaks (vv. 23, 27, 29). The following aspects of the account establish that every man and woman in Hell will have cognition:
· each one will sense he or she is in torment (v. 23) and agony (v.24) which causes them to cry out (v.23) for relief even in the form of a small amount of water (v. 24);
· each one will see (v. 23) as shown by the rich man recognizing Lazarus;
· each one will speak with reasoned speech (vv. 24, 27-28, 30) as shown by the rich man reasoning with and speaking to Abraham;
· each one will remember (v. 25, 27-28, 30) their life on earth before their physical death;
· each one will know what they should have done to have been saved (v. 30);
· each one will have concern for the lost still on earth (v. 27-28); and
· each one will understand the concept of mercy (v. 24), but they will not receive any mercy (v. 26).
You may be able to glean a few other evidences of cognitive thinking from the text, but these prove the point. Even if this passage describes the intermediate state for the lost, the same emotional and metal torment will exist in hell. Hell is an awful place. Let me further elaborate on one of the exceedingly awful attributes; namely, that those in Hell will know and remember what they could have done to have been saved. Verse 30 (ASV 1901) records the rich man’s cry:
30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent.
It seems fair to say that he knew what he could have done to have been saved, but did not. One commentator writes:
The kingdom of God is now present in Jesus. If one does not follow Jesus, hope for eternity is gone, no matter how expert one is in the ancient authorities. Jesus has come calling people to repent, for the kingdom is here. The rich man then saw that people like him may appear to be blessed and perfect. They may be religious leaders. They may appear righteous. But they still need to repent and enter the kingdom.
Butler, T. C. (2000). Luke (Vol. 3, p. 267). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers. Emphasis added.
Another commentator writes:
5. Unconverted people discover the value of a soul—after death
We learn, fifth, from this parable that unconverted people find out the value of a soul—after death, when it is too late. We read how the rich man wanted Lazarus to be sent back to his five living brothers to warn them so they would not go to that “ ‘place of torment’ ” (verses 27–28). While he lived, he had never done anything to help them spiritually. They had probably been his companions in worldliness and, like him, had neglected their souls entirely. When he is dead, he finds out too late the folly they were guilty of and desires that, if possible, they might be called to repentance.
Ryle, J. C. (1997). Luke (Lk 16:19–31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. Emphasis added.
Below, I quote a portion of a message by Jimmy Chapman (link: Some Things Remembered In Hell – Luke 16_19_31.pdf (sermonoutlines.org)) from a church named Dayspring Baptist Chapel in Michigan (emphasis added) that addresses this point:
There is no torment like an accusing memory. In Hell you will forever remember the chances you had and let pass by. In Hell, you will forever remember the grace of God that you despised. In Hell, you will never be able to forget the gospel messages you have heard and refused. In Hell you will forever remember the invitations that you had to come to Jesus and refused. Eternity is an awful time to have and look back on what might have been!
In Hell you will forever remember the chances, opportunities, the privileges you had and let pass by. Eternity- it is awful thing to have to look back through all eternity on mercy rejected. In Hell a man is bound to his murdered past. . In hell you will forever remember the chances you had and let pass by. You will remember endlessly the opportunities you had to trust Christ. You will remember the services you attended where the gospel was preached, and you refused to accept it.
Not until my studying to write The Salvation Meter did I appreciate that an unbeliever’s torment in hell has a mental and emotional component. Please give this some deep thought! After a lost person dies, they will appreciate their mistake, but it will be too late because their eternal fate is sealed forever. Even though there is unspeakable physical torment, hell’s mental and emotional torment is beyond our present human comprehension.
Jesus taught that hell is real as recorded in Matthew 5:29–30 (ASV 1901):
29 And if thy right eye causeth thee to stumble, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand causeth thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not thy whole body go into hell.
The lost person will “be thrown into hell” or “go into hell.” In verse 29, the ASV1901 translates the Greek verb ballō as “cast, ” meaning to be moved from one location to another by force. In verse 30, the ASV1901 translates the Greek verb aperchomai as “go” and it means to move away from a reference with the emphasis on the departure. The clear implication from using these verbs is that hell is an actual destination into which a lost person will be forcibly tossed. When the reality of hell sets in, no one in their right mind wants to voluntarily go to hell.
In the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant as recorded at Matthew 18:21–35, Jesus described hell to be like a prison. In his article A Description of Hell (link: https://harvest.org/know-god-article/description-of-hell/ ), Greg Laurie wrote:
Hell is like a prison
One of the clearest pictures Jesus gave of Hell was that of a prison. He told a parable of a king’s servant who was sent to jail for cruel and unforgiving behavior, then adding this warning, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:35).
Verse 34 (ASV 1901) described the final punishment of the unforgiving servant:
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due.
In his anger, the master delivered the unforgiving servant to “tormentors.” Typically, “tormentors” had the job of torturing inmates to get to the truth of a matter. The Greek word translated as “torturers” means:
37.126 βασανιστής, οῦ m: (derivative of βασανίζω ‘to torture,’ 38.13) a person serving as a guard in a prison, whose function was to torture prisoners as a phase of judicial examination—‘prison guard, torturer.
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 486). New York: United Bible Societies.
In an article entitled “Doing Time in a First Century Prison” (Insight for Living; link: https://www.insight.org/resources/article-library/individual/doing-time-in-a-first-century-prison ), Derrick G. Jeter writes:
The Mamertine Prison in Rome could have been called the “House of Darkness.” Few prisons were as dim, dank, and dirty as the lower chamber Paul occupied. Known in earlier times as the Tullianum dungeon, its “neglect, darkness, and stench” gave it “a hideous and terrifying appearance,” according to Roman historian Sallust. See Sallust, The War with Catiline, 55.5, in The War with Catiline, The War with Jugurthine, trans. J. C. Rolfe, rev. John T. Ramsey (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013), 133.
Another article entitled “Roman Prisons” from UNRV Roman History (link: Roman Prisons | UNRV.com Roman History ) describes a Roman prison:
Sallust described it as about twelve feet deep into the ground. “Its appearance is disgusting and vile by reason of the filth, the darkness and the stench.” It was into this room, 6 1/2 ft. high, thirty feet long and twenty-two feet wide, that prisoners who had been condemned to die either by strangulation or starvation were thrown. One attributes the phrase “to be cast into prison” had its origins here.
It will be an awful experience for a lost person to be in the hands of the “tormentors” forever. In this parable, the expression “all that was due” equates to forever because he could never make restitution in his circumstances. One translation handbook reads:
Till he should pay all his debt is almost word-for-word the same as the last part of verse 30, except for the inclusion of the modifier all. That is, the man’s own punishment is described in terms of the punishment which he inflicted on his fellow servant. Moreover, the man’s situation is helpless and his punishment is endless, because there is no opportunity for him to make restoration.
Newman, B. M., & Stine, P. C. (1992). A handbook on the Gospel of Matthew (p. 584). United Bible Societies.
Hell is “the darkness” (i.e., “the outer darkness”), which is worse than merely being “dark.” Jesus used the phrase “the outer darkness” in some passages, including Matthew 22:13 (ASV 1901), which reads:
13 Then the king said to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him out into the outer darkness; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.
The idiom “outer darkness” suggests darkness along with separation where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Among many things, Hell will be a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. The above three passages from Matthew bear this out. Note that the Greek word brygmos is translated as “gnashing” and it means:
23.41 τρίζω τοὺς ὀδόντας; βρύχω τοὺς ὀδόνταςa; βρυγμὸς τῶν ὀδόντων: the grinding or the gnashing of the teeth, whether involuntary as in the case of certain illnesses, or as an expression of an emotion such as anger or of pain and suffering—‘to grind the teeth, to gnash the teeth, gnashing of teeth.’
Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 253). New York: United Bible Societies.
It is a tragic misconception to think that hell is one big party. Quite the opposite is true where the pain and remorse will be unbearable.
Hell is a place whose awfulness is beyond our ability to understand completely. Consider the description of Hell in Isaiah 66:22-24 (KJV 1900) [emphasis added]:
22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, Shall remain before me, saith the Lord, So shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, And from one sabbath to another, Shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord. 24 And they shall go forth, and look Upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: For their worm shall not die, Neither shall their fire be quenched; And they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Note that Mark 9:47-48 (NASB95) records Jesus quoting a part of this passage from Isaiah:
47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
The above discussion generates the following questions for you to answer.
Question 1-38: Do you believe there is a place of eternal punishment, i.e., hell? Please explain your answer. If you do not believe there is a place of eternal punishment, how do you explain the many passages that support the existence of hell? In your explanation please include a discussion about how your view reflects your position about the overall authority of Scripture.
Question 1-38A: Do you agree with the description by the Bible about the awfulness and sheer terror of hell? Do you agree that the biblical description of hell makes you want to be sure of your eternal destiny? Do you agree that the biblical description of hell makes you want to be sure of the eternal destiny of others you know? Would you please explain your answers?
Question 1-38B: In the above text, I wrote:
While some they may not think of it this way, a preacher who does not preach about hell and eternal punishment must hate the lost people within the sound of his voice.
Do you believe this is a fair statement? Please explain your answer.
Question 1-39: What are your takeaways from the biblical texts that describe hell? Please explain your answer and include a description of how you feel about the mental and emotional torment an unbeliever will suffer in hell for eternity. Please keep in mind the points raised in the sermon “Some Things Remembered in Hell.”
Question 1-40: The account of Lazarus and the rich man describes the permanent fixing of the great chasm to prevent the passage of people from heaven to hell and from hell to heaven. Before now, did you appreciate that when in hell, a person experiences eternal separation from God? How does the condition of eternal separation from God make you feel? Please explain your answers.
Question 1-41: Does the nature of hell cause you to want to reach out to friends and relatives who may be lost? Does the existence of hell cause you to want to recommend The Salvation Meter to your lost friends and relatives? Please explain your answer and write down the names of people you think would benefit from using The Salvation Meter. Next, please contact those persons whose names you wrote down.