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The Scriptures also show us that hell will be a place where those who are there will be in a state of consciousness. They will be aware of their torment. Jesus in Parable of Lost Son illustrates this fact, "And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame,...'" (Luke 16:23,24) They will be aware of their existence, condition, and reason for their torment. I think that this will be especially severe for those who knew Christ, and have fallen away.
I suppose when average person hears of hell being referred to as lake of fire, they also picture it as a bright place. After all fire puts off quite a bit of light. But scriptures also describe hell as a place of darkness. "But sons of kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12) The outer darkness may be a way to contrast beautiful picture painted for us in Revelation of what heaven will be like. The outer darkness may be an indication that it will be opposite of beauty of heaven. It is no doubt a very ugly place. The "outer darkness" could also be literally that; complete and utter darkness. We know that parable of lost son indicates that those in hell can see to other side, but that does not mean that they can see and understand what is going on right next to them. The torment spoken of in Bible would surely be multiplied if it happened in complete darkness.
Those in hell will be fully aware of what they have missed. It is hard for us to conceptualize beauty of heaven and ugliness of hell. But for those who get sent to hell, they will know of both. It will also be a place where those who are there are separated from their Christian loved ones. "There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all prophets in kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out." (Luke 13:28) What a horrible experience for someone to be able to see their loved ones; mother, father, brothers, sisters, and friends enjoying themselves in heaven and know that they themselves are cast into hell for eternity.
We know that in heaven there will be no pain, no sadness, and no crying. In order for this to be true, we will not be aware of all sad memories we have today. But that will not be true in hell. There will be memories. The ones which are sad for those hell-bound today will be even more pronounced. And joyous memories of today will turn to sadness as they realize what could have been.
Have you ever made a poor choice in life and have it "come back to haunt you?" Anyone of any age at all that has not experienced this is truly a unique person. We all make poor choices, and they will usually come back to haunt us in future. As those in hell are remembering their life on earth, they probably will be also remembering all opportunities that they had to give their lives to Christ, and didn't. They will probably remember each excuse that they used. They will remember those things that they did not want to give up to become a Christian, and how little those things eventually meant to them. The memories of all those things will be horrible memories indeed.
And finally we see that hell will be a place of no release. "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but righteous into eternal life." (Matthew 25:46) A few years ago I was lamenting to a friend of mine about some aspect of my life that I was having trouble dealing with. We all go through that, dealing with unpleasant matters. My friend said, "Remember, this too shall pass." Whereas this is true with everything on earth, opposite is true in hell. Hell is for eternity, and for those banished there, it will not pass away.
Is hell a real place? Yes, it certainly is. It is a terrible place, and it is a place of eternal punishment. It is for all unsaved who reject gospel and turn away from God. It is a place of consciousness, torment, darkness, separation from Christian loved ones, separation from God, a place without any hope of release, and a place of horrible memories.
The unsaved need to know about hell. I hope that this article will help you to be a witness to lost in your community as well as your friends and loved ones who are without Christ. My prayer is that you will use this information to share with them.
All scriptures quoted are from New King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Stephen Kingery is an author, preacher, teacher and founder of The Home Bible Study Institute.
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