When this life is over, there are only two possible destinations for our soul – heaven or hell!
The Bible assures us that both of them are very real, describing them in terms we can understand yet leaving us to wonder how glorious heaven really is and how terrible hell really is. Since we will go to one or the other, let’s compare the options:
Hell is designed for the devil: 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…” NKJV
After Jesus returns, Satan will be thrown into hell to be punished! He won’t rule it, as some believe! He will suffer in it!
Revelation 20:10 – “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” NKJV
Heaven is designed for us: Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” NKJV
John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” NKJV
Where do you want to go, to a place prepared for the devil or to a place prepared for us? I want to go to heaven, don’t you?
Hell will be a place of damnation and despair: Hell is described as a place so horrible it brings tears to my eyes to even preach about it! Hell is a terrible place of darkness, disorientation, dread, torment and unbelievable pain; a lake which burns with fire and brimstone; a place of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth! Hell is ugly, ugly, ugly!
In Mark 9:47-48, Jesus describes hell as a place where people will feel a gnawing or cutting sensation because their souls (worm) would never die – “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire – where ‘Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” NKJV
The Greek word that is translated as “hell” in this passage is the word “gehenna.” This is based on the Hebrew word that means “Valley of Hinnom,” a place located on the south side of Jerusalem where the Jews sacrificed humans (their children), to the false idol named Molech (1 Kings 11:7) during one of their periods of apostasy (2 Kings 16:3; 23:10). It was considered cursed ground.
King Josiah turned it in to a place of abomination where dead bodies were thrown and burned (2 Kings 23:13-14). After this practice was outlawed they brought their garbage here to be burned. By New Testament times, smoldering fires were kept burning in an attempt to burn up discarded bodies of animals and unburied humans. Jesus used this word as a symbol and a fitting description of the place of punishment for the wicked.
In other words, Jesus compared hell to a stinking garbage dump where the fires were always burning and where maggots and other creatures lived in the garbage; eating, gnawing, devouring, but never running out of things to eat!
What do we put on a garbage dump? Things we don’t want or need anymore. Hell is a human garbage dump!
Heaven will be a place of deliverance and delight: Heaven is beautiful beyond imagination with streets of gold, precious stones, many mansions, the river of the water of life, the tree of life, a place of light, a place where we will not suffer at all:
Revelation 21:4 – “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV
In heaven, God will not simply dry our tears; He will remove the things that cause our tears – death, sorrow, pain – forever!
“As a younger man I had difficulty understanding how elderly people could frequently long for heaven. But the longer I live, the more I understand! We all grow tired of seeing in others and experiencing ourselves the ravages of sickness, pain, old age, and death – in heaven this will all be gone – forever!”
In heaven, we will finally be able to rest from the toils of this life: Hebrews 4:9 – “…there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God.” NLT
For now, we can only imagine!
Where do you want to go – a place of damnation and despair or a place of deliverance and delight? I want to go to heaven, don’t you?
Hell will be filled with a despicable crowd: According to the Bible, all sorts of creatures will be in hell. The devil and his cohorts will be there, along with the wicked and ungodly and disobedient and unfaithful.
Psalm 9:17 – “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” NKJV
Matthew 23:33 – “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?” NKJV
Mark 16:16 – “…he who does not believe will be condemned.” NKJV
Matthew 6:14-15: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” NLT
John 3:5 – “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” NKJV
Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” NKJV
Revelation 21:8 – “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.” NKJV
Revelation 22:15 – “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” NKJV
“Those in hell will not be the ones who made a bad start – they are the ones who made a bad finish!”
Revelations 20:15 – “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” NKJV
Heaven will be filled with a desirable crowd: Imagine eternity with those who will be in heaven.
“God the Father” – to be in His presence will be the best part of heaven, to be removed from His sight will be the worst part of hell. “Jesus” – at last, we will be able to say, “Thank You” to Him face-to-face. The “Holy Spirit” who has been our constant companion in this life, will be in heaven.
The angels will be there. The saved people from all nations will be there – all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life!
Abraham, Noah, Enoch, Moses, Elijah, David, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and the other great prophets, preachers, and women of the Bible will be gathered there. Our loved ones who are Christians will be in heaven. Infants and small children will be there:
Revelation 7:9-10: “After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” NLT
Where do you want to go – the location with a despicable crowd or the place with desirable companions? It’s not a difficult choice, is it! I want to go to to my heavenly home, don’t you?
Hell = death: How can we summarize the punishment of hell? One word – death! Revelation 20:14 – “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” NKJV
The word “death” means “separation.” Physical death results from the separation of body and spirit: James 2:26 – “…the body without the spirit is dead…” NKJV
Spiritual death results when the sinner is separated from God: Isaiah 59:1-2: “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” NIV
The “second death” is eternal separation from God: 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9: “…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day…” NKJV
The word “destruction” does not refer to annihilation, but “permanent misery!” If lost sinners were actually destroyed or made extinct, their punishment could not be everlasting.
People in hell will be dead in the sense that they are separated from God, but that doesn’t mean they cease to exist like an animal. They will be alive and conscious, but they will be “…suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
In this life, the sinner is separated from the Lord, but that separation can be reversed. In hell, however, the separation will be complete and irreversible – that is the true meaning of death!
In this life the sinner lives in a God-filled world (Matthew 5:45). That will cease when he is cast into hell, because God and Jesus will not be there – “Hell will be a Godless, Christless place filled with lost souls condemned to an eternity of fiery darkness, pain, misery and regret!”
“God has provided a way to stay out of hell – but no way to get out!”
Matthew 25:46 – “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” NKJV
Heaven = life: How can we summarize the blessings of heaven? One word – life! If the word “death” means “separation” and “eternal death” means being eternally separated from God, then “eternal life” means being/living in God’s presence eternally/forever!
Revelation 21:3 – “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.” NKJV
Which place do you want to go to – a place of eternal death or a place of eternal life? I want to go to heaven, don’t you?
Hell’s duration = forever: There is one way that heaven and hell are both the same? Both will last forever! To be in hell forever would be a curse beyond imagination: Revelation 14:11 – “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night…” NKJV
Heaven’s duration = forever: To be in heaven forever will be a blessing beyond our ability to comprehend: Revelation 22:1-5: “And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” NKJV
Do you want to go to hell forever or heaven forever? I want to go to heaven, don’t you?
Closing thoughts on heaven: The people who go to heaven are the ones who “do God’s will” on earth:
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” NKJV
The people who go to heaven are the ones who have been “washed in the blood of the Lamb” – Acts 22:16 – “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” NKJV
Revelation 1:5 – “…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…” NKJV
The people who go to heaven are the ones who “live faithful and Godly lives” – 1 John 1:7 – “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” NKJV
Revelation 2:10 – “…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” NKJV
Closing thoughts on hell: A lot has been said about hell down through the years! Some say “there is no hell, that hell is just being dead, that hell is here on earth!”
I’ve heard of some people who said that they “were going to hell, and looking forward to it” because they were going to see all of their friends there – “I can make friends with anybody there.”
One said, “My friends and I are going to play cards there and have a good time.”
What a deceived individual. You may hear them moaning and groaning, but hell is a deep, black, burning caldron from which you will never see your former friends and loved ones again. Hell is a place of total isolation that is so dark, even the light from the flames won’t light the place up.
People who go to hell will spend eternity alone in a fiery lake of darkness. There will be no visiting rights and no conjugal privileges in hell!
According to the Bible, people who go to hell will be utterly without hope! There will be tremendous suffering and torment in the flame. There will be nobody to show sympathy, lend a helping hand or give you a shoulder to cry on. There will be no hope of ever getting out.
There will be no chance for pardon or parole; no chance that God will change His mind; no chance to ever escape, and no end to the hideous torture of worms and flames. There will be no peace of mind for those in hell: Isaiah 57:21 – “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.” NKJV
Hell will be an awful place filled with people who will say for all of eternity – “I don’t want to be here, I wish I would have listened, I wish I could have just one more chance.”
Please don’t be deceived into thinking that you have plenty of time to be a Christian later in your life. You have no guarantee that you will live to see the sun come up tomorrow. You may die tonight – if you do it will be too late to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.
Please do not gamble with your soul. Eternity is at stake! You cannot put repentance off until later; friends, you don’t want to die an unforgiven sinner.
To make it worse, if you do go to hell because you lived and died a sinner, you will probably take someone with you – spouse, children, friends, etc. Is that what you want for yourself or your family? That’s what will happen if you are not prepared to meet God!
What God says about hell should be enough to convince us that we do not want to go there, and the truth is, no one has to. Where you spend eternity is a choice you get to make.
100 years from now the only thing that will matter is the choice you may make today between life and death.
“Life has many choices – eternity has two – which choice do you make?”
Matthew 7:13-14: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” NLT