What Will It Be Like?


Dr. John Hoole – July 13, 20, 27



More people believe in heaven than believe in hell – but, like Heaven, hell is a literal place.  Jesus actually spoke more about hell than He did heaven and He doesn’t describe it as a pleasant place.  Christ used vividly descriptive language when He spoke about it.


Biblical Words that Describe Hell:


•  Fire and brimstone – Psalm 11:6; Revelation 19:20


•  Furnace of fire – Matthew 13:41-42; 49-50


•  Prison – Matthew 18:33-35; Luke 12:58


•  Fiery oven – Psalm 21:9


•  Lake of fire – Revelation 20:10, 14-15; 21:8


•  Eternal punishment – Matthew 25:46


•  Eternal destruction – 1 Thessalonians 1:9


•  Flames of fire – Isaiah 66:15


•  Burning wind – Psalm 11:6


•  Blackness of Darkness – Jude 13


•  Unquenchable fire – Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17


•  Judgment by fire – Isaiah 66:16


•  Eternal fire – Matthew 18:8, 25:41; Jude 7


In our last lesson, we established the reality of hell’s existence.  Today we discuss what eternal hell will be like.  First, let me tell you what Hell is NOT.  This present life is not hell – as believed by Christian Science.  Great pains in this life cannot be compared to the awfulness of hell.  Hell is not a myth – as is held by the Rosicrucians.  Hell is not a place where you will party with your friends.  Hell is not the grave.  Hell is not short-lived torment resulting in annihilation – as believed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses.




1.      It will be a place of separation.


First let me address the word “place” and follow that with the word “separation.”  With regard to the word “place,” let us compare two passages from the Bible.  The two passages I want to compare are Matthew 25:41 and John 14:2.


Matthew 25:41 NKJV


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:


John 14:2 NKJV


2       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.


Notice that both passages include the word “prepare.”  The same Greek word, “Hetoimazo” is used in Matthew 25:41 where God prepared a place for the devil, as is used in John 14:2, where Jesus says, I go to prepare a place for you.”


Christ describes hell as a real place, just as Heaven is a real place.  Both have been prepared by God.  Now let’s address the subject of SEPARATION.  Hell is a place of separation.


God prepared heaven as His home, filled with all the attributes of His holiness and glory.  But in God’s preparation of hell, He removed all of his attributes, or goodness, from that place.  Spiritual death means to be separated from God, and to be separated from Him is to be separated from all good.


As a consequence, this is the result:


•  Hell is dark because God is light (1 John 1:5).

         •  Hell is only death because God is life (John 1:4).

         •  Hell is hatred because God is love (1 John 4:16).

         •  Hell has no mercy because the mercy of the Lord is in the heavens (Psalm 36:5).

         •  Hell is only weakness because the Lord is the giver of strength (Psalm 18:32).

         •  Hell is loud because “My people will dwell in … quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32:18).

         •  Hell has no water because water is the rain of heaven (Deuteronomy 11:11).

         •  Hell has no peace because Christ is the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6).


The good that both the righteous and the unrighteous experience today is because God allows us to enjoy it while we are here on the earth.  Psalm 33:5 states, The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.”


Some would say, “I don’t need your Christ.”  But this kind of talk betrays both arrogance and ignorance, because while the wicked may want nothing to do with God while they live on the earth, they should be grateful that God still wants something to do with them.  No matter what they desire, they in fact are not living totally without God.


Take for instance what it says in Acts 17:25, which says, “He gives to all life, breath and everything else.”  And the Psalmist, in Psalm 104, puts it like this:


Psalms 104:13-15 NKJV


13     He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works.

14     He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth,

15     And wine that makes glad the heart of man, Oil to make his face shine, And bread which strengthens man's heart.


Theologians call this “common grace.”  It is what Jesus had in mind when He said that God, “makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).


When and atheist shouts, “There is not God!”, he can do so only because God gives him air to breathe and strength to draw it into his lungs.  Sinners today can ignore God and still get a great deal of enjoyment out of life only because God supplies them with the natural resources, energy, intelligence, and senses to do so.  Food, drink, clothing, company, friendship, sport, music, art, laughter, happiness – all of these, and hundreds of other things that contribute to our well-being, are gracious gifts from a generous Creator.


In this life, nobody is forsaken by God or banished from all links with Him.  But in hell, all those life-giving and life-enhancing links are gone.  In hell, sinners will not benefit in any way from the love, goodness, patience and mercy of God.  They will receive nothing that is of any benefit to them, or that gives even a moments pleasure.  They will be banished.


However, if you want nothing to do with God, then there is a place prepared that has nothing to do with His goodness.  All the goodness of God experienced by all people on earth today, will be removed from those in hell because they are separated from Him.  Proverbs 15:29 says, “The LORD is far from the wicked.”


2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (NKJV) emphasizes this separation.


8       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.

9       These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,


Notice that their punishment is FROM the Lord’s presence and FROM His glory and power.  It is a terrible thing to never again have the opportunity to come into the presence of a loving God.  Because God is not there, hell will be a place where there is no mercy, no grace, no love.


In Matthew 22, we read the parable of the wedding banquet.  Christ speaks of an intruder, who arrives without the proper wedding attire.  And in Verse 13, we read:


Matthew 22:13 NKJV


13     Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


Banishment from the feast speaks of final banishment from the people of God.  Being cast into the darkness signifies forced separation from the light and warmth of the feast.  Mention of crying and grinding of teeth leaves no doubt as to the painfulness of this experience.


The person in hell is forever separated from God and from any person who is godly.  Hell is not only a place of suffering, but it is also a place devoid of God.  People in hell will never hear another sermon.  They will never hear another gospel song, nor will anyone ever witness to them again.  There are no churches in hell.


John ends the Bible with the picture of the New Jerusalem, where he writes:


Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV


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.

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."


All who enter “through the gates into the city” will be comforted by God’s presence.  But not all will have that privilege, “for outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who lives and practices falsehood” (Revelation 22:14-15).


If citizenship in the New Jerusalem means belonging to God, then exclusion from the city denotes separation from Him and His love.


2.      It is a place of eternal torment


In Christ’s story about the wealthy but ungodly man who died and went to Hades, Jesus said the “He was in torment” (Luke 16:23).


Rev 20:10 NKJV


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.


The Greek word used here is also translated “torture.”  In one form or another the word “torment” occurs 21 times in the New Testament.  The word is also in the present tense.  This speaks of the fact that the torment will not cease.


Hell will be a place of intense suffering.


Revelation 14:11   (NIV)


11     And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."


                   Hell will be a place of great pain and hurt.  Why would anyone ever want to go there


More than 1,600 years ago, John Chrysostom (347-407), Bishop of Constantinople, emphasized what this will mean.


“The damned shall suffer an end without end, a death without death, a decay without decay … they shall have punishment without pity, misery without mercy, sorrow without succor (aid, help), crying without comfort, torment without ease.”


3.      Hell is a place of destruction and condemnation


The Word of God also uses images of death and destruction to describe the final state of the wicked.  Jesus admonishes his hearers, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).


We need not ultimately fear human beings, for the worst they can do is take our lives.  Instead, we should fear God, who can bring us to eternal ruin.


In Matthew 7:13, (KJV) we are instructed to….


13     Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:


John 5:28-29 NKJV


28     Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 

29     and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation


4.      Hell will be a place of memories


Luke 16:23-25   (NIV)


23     In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side.

24     So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

25     "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.


Of all the agonies of Hell, perhaps one of the worst, is the fact that the person will retain their memories.  They will remember every sermon they heard, and the words of every person who witnessed to them.


They will remember when the Lord convicted their heart and they turned a deaf ear to the pleas of the Holy Spirit.  They will remember how they wasted their time on earth.  They will remember, but be unable to change anything.


A person’s memory in hell will cause severe agony.  It will be pure torment.  Four times the Bible tells us there will be much weeping in hell -- Matthew 8:12;  Matthew 22:13;  Matthew 25:30;  Matthew 24:51.  Much of the weeping will come from their memories, knowing what they should have done with their life, but didn’t.


5.      Hell will be a place of eternal fire.


Of all the descriptions used to speak of hell, “fire” is the one most used.  It is used as a descriptor of hell 21 places in the Bible.


David indicates how God will deal with those who reject His rule in their lives.  Psalm 11:6“On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur.”  the prophet Isaiah speaks to God about “the fire reserved for your enemies” (Isaiah 26:11).


In another message in the book of Isaiah, fire again is connected with the punishment of the wicked.


Isaiah 33:14 NIV


14     The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: "Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"


The context of this verse is obviously speaking of God’s righteous judgment upon people living at that time.  But the earliest translators of the Old Testament into Aramaic had no hesitation in borrowing this wording when speaking of eternal punishment.


In the last chapter of the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi records this warning:


Malachi 4:1 NIV


4       Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the Lord Almighty…


This image of hell is also used in many places in the New Testament.  The last time Jesus uses “fire” is in His teaching about the day of final judgment.


Matthew 25:41   (NIV)


41     Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.


Revelation 20:14 describes the Lake of Fire as the second death.”  We are introduced to the Lake of Fire for the first time in Revelation 19:20, when Christ casts the Antichrist and False Prophet into it.


Later, when John writes:


“When the thousand years are over … the devil … was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are.  They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:7, 10).


It is plain to see that, after 1,000 years, the Antichrist and the False Prophet are not annihilated when thrown into the Lake of Fire.  They are still there, alive, when Satan, himself is thrown there.  John says unequivocally that they will be tormented eternally.


Mark 9:48 tells us that the fire is never extinguished.  The fires of hell will cause great agony, and it will never end.


6.      Hell is a place of great darkness


Another aspect of hell is that of darkness.  One of the fullest expressions in the Old Testament is where Job speaks of “the land of gloom and deep shadows … the land of deepest night, of deep shadows and disorder, where even the light is like darkness” (Job 10:21-22).


Centuries later, Jesus warned those who rejected Him, and said:


Matthew 8:12 (NKJV)


12     But the sons of the kingdom (not God’s kingdom) will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." 


Elsewhere, Peter writes, in 2 Peter, of those who, “follow the corrupt desires of the sinful nature and despises authority,” who have “eyes full of adultery” and are “experts in greed,” and then pronounces their doom: “blackest darkness is reserved for them” (1 Peter 2:10, 14, 17).


Another New Testament writer uses a similar expression in condemning those whose sinful lifestyles included the rejection of authority – where he says:


Jude 13


13     They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.


Matthew 22:13 NKJV


13     Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'


The Bible gives no explanation of what this “darkness” means. But we know that “God is light” (1 John 1:5).  Several of the passages we have looked at describes hell not as “darkness,” but as “the darkness.  That seems to emphasize it will be infinitely worse than any physical, moral, mental, or spiritual darkness ever experienced here on earth.


It is almost impossible for us to imagine a placed with no dawns, no mornings no ray of sunshine no clear sky, and where every day is night.


7.      Hell will be a place of no rest


Revelation 14:11   (NIV)


11     And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."


8.      Hell is a place of unfulfilled desires and unanswered prayers


In Luke 16:27, the rich man prayed to have Lazarus sent to his brothers who were still alive.  His prayer could not be answered.


I believe hell will be a place where the same desires people had on earth will continue with them beyond the judgment.  In hell the concert pianist who worshiped himself through his art won’t be able to play a simple scale.  The man who lived for sex will continue with his eternal lust, but with nobody to exploit.  The woman who made a god out of fashion and has a thousand dresses, will have no mirror with which to view herself and none in hell with her caring a whit about her desires.  Hell is eternal desire…..eternally unfulfilled.


9.      Hell is a place where the worm never dies


Mark 9:47-48   NKJV


47     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 --  

48     where 'Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'  


Here, in Mark 9, Jesus began a brief discourse with His disciples, explaining that their spiritual well-being should be the paramount concern in their lives.  In order to illustrate this point, He commented that if their hand offended them, it should be cut off, or if their foot made them sin, it too, should be amputated.  This figurative language stressed the point that whatever stood in the way of faithfulness to God should be discarded.  Jesus concluded that it was better to be rid of stumbling blocks than to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched, where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.”  The picture here is that of the city dump, where the worms were maggots or grubs that feed on dead bodies as fire burns up the trash.


Jesus is quoting from Prophet Isaiah which was written nearly 800 years earlier.  You might find it interesting the way Isaiah ends his book of 66 chapters.


Isaiah 66:24 NKJV


24     “And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched. They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." 


I don’t know with certainty that I can tell you exactly what the Bible means when it speaks of the worms.  Some take this phrase literally and I have said on many occasions that the Bible should be taken literally, unless the context tells us differently.  Those who take this literally accept that worms will not die in the flames, but which will continuously gnaw at the flesh of hell’s inhabitants without consuming them.


Look at the words again.  When Jesus speaks about the “fire,” He says the fire is never quenched.  But when He speaks of the worm, He does not say “the worm does not die.”  But rather, in all three places in this chapter, He says their worm does not die.”


Unlike the fire, which torment all who are in the Lake of Fire, the worm is peculiar, or unique, to each individual.  It seems to be something that came to hell with them.


Many that take the image of their worm figuratively, believe that by taking how the word “worm” is used elsewhere in the Bible, it is speaking of a person’s conscience which eat and eats at them.


For them, the worm may speak of a person’s remorse over their failure to do what was necessary to avoid hell.  Whether the worm has reference to a person’s conscience, I cannot say for certain.


We do know that a person’s conscience will be active in hell.  We touched on that earlier when we mentioned that a person in hell will be able to remember.  Allow me to make a few more comments about one’s conscience in hell.


We know that a conscience exercises a powerful influence on one’s emotions either negatively or positively.  Even in the most traumatic of situations, a clear conscience can be the source of tremendous peace, strength and resolve.


When Paul was defending himself against false accusers, Paul was able to claim, ”I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”  (Acts 24:16)


When William Penn (1644 – 1718) was imprisoned in the Tower of London, he was reported to have said:

“My prison shall be my grave before I will budge a jot, for I owe my conscience to no man.  Right is right even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it.”


An English proverb says: “A quiet conscience sleeps in thunder.”  William Penn found that to be true.


On the other hand, however, a guilty conscience has the opposite effect.  It nags and gnaws at the mind, blurring one’s judgment and cripples initiative.  In Shakespeare’s Richard III, the king, nearly paralyzed with guilt, cried out”


                   My conscience has a thousand several tongues.

                   And every tongue brings in several tales,

                   And every tale condemns me for a villain.


Yet, however severe the pangs of conscience can be on earth, they are infinitely greater in hell.  The sinner in hell will have a capacity for suffering far beyond any they had on earth, and quite possibly, the conscience they take with them will be their worst tormentor.  Nor will there be any way to silence it.


John Flavel wrote in the 17th century:


         “Conscience, which should have been the sinner’s curb on earth, becomes the whip that must lash his soul in hell………that which was the seat and center of all guilt, now becomes the seat and center of all torments.”


In hell, a person’s conscience will make the sinner acutely aware that he deliberately, freely, and gladly chose the path that led him to hell.  And if this were not horrifying enough,  this torment will go on uninterrupted.  They will have no rest or peace day and night.




Let me show you one additional chart to bring our lesson to a close.  We each have a choice to make concerning where each of us will spend eternity.


Heaven or Hell:


         In HEAVEN, right choices will be forever celebrated.


                  In HELL, wrong choices are endlessly reviewed.


         The best of earth is a but glimpse of HEAVEN.


                  The worst of earth is but a glimpse of HELL.


         God’s presence makes HEAVEN HEAVEN.


                  God’s absence make HELL HELL.


The most basic truth is there are only two possible eternal destination – heaven and hell.  One is just as real as the other.  The great problem is, while making up one’s mind, they are already on the road to one of these places.


The default destination is Hell.  Unless and until we bow our knees to Jesus Christ, that is where we are headed.  Satan has deluded mankind into thinking the default destiny is Heaven, and you have to do something very evil not to go there.