Hell: Eternal Punishment for the Wicked – John Boruff

The Lake of FireThe Wicked Will Be Thrown Into Hell!

The thought of Hell, of people burning in fire forever in the center of the Earth, is for most men of a compassionate disposition, the most intolerable and repulsive thought on this side of eternity. But it is also true that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). On the one hand, the hearts of men are deceitful; not only deceptive, and dishonest in some things; but above all things in God’s fallen creation: “the heart is deceitful”. The hearts of men are deceitful; they are also “desperately wicked”; not only are they Hell-bent on breaking the commandments of their Maker, they are desperate to do so, and then to excuse their wickedness, by civility and good manners. But for God this will not satisfy men’s unconfessed and unrepented insults against His glory.

   From His viewpoint, men have a tendency to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” so they can go on sinning their sins; but sooner or later, “the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom. 1:18). God’s wrath is under control for now, His patience is as long as a lifetime, but after the pale-faced rider of Death comes for a soul, Hell follows closely by (Rev. 6:8), and “the wicked shall be turned into Hell, and all the nations that forget God!” (Ps. 9:17). The Hebrew word for “turned” suggests that God will have the wicked be “thrown into Hell,” because it is where they belong: and the means by which this will happen: God will send angels to throw the wicked into Hell (Matt. 5:29; 13:41-42); such is the beginning of their eternal misery, to be hurled “into the bottomless pit of Hell-fire”[1] by the power of God Almighty. “The wicked WILL BE HURLED into Hell, and all the nations that forget God!”

The Wicked Store Up God’s Wrath for Themselves

   In a day and age when “the wicked” and “the righteous” are long forgotten categories of people, in a day when postmodern moral relativity governs people’s thoughts and life choices, to speak of “the wicked” and much less of “Hell” are such foreign ideas that they don’t really make sense. But I hope to change that by a few thoughts. The God of the Bible has certain attributes that modern man has lost awareness of. While many will own that “God is love” (1 John 4:8); they often forget that Scripture also shows God is good (Rom. 11:22), holy (Rev. 4:8), righteous (Rom. 1:17), perfect (Matt. 5:48), jealous for worship (Exod. 20:5-6), all powerful (Rev. 19:6), all knowing (Ps. 147:5), and the only sovereign King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim. 6:15), whom has wrath for His enemies who hate Him and rebel against His law (Ps. 69:24).

   Woe to those men who are “storing up for themselves wrath” for Judgment Day!:–they do this by keeping their hearts hard and unrepentant before God (Rom. 2:5); they may hear a street preacher shout: “REPENT OR PERISH!” “TURN OR BURN!” (Luke 13:3); but they will not turn away from their sins, they will not flee the wrath to come, they will not hear God’s passionate warnings, they tell themselves there is no God, there is no Judgment Day, there is no Hell, there is no wrath to come. Until, like the evil rich man in Luke chapter 16, who after experiencing his first few moments of torment in Hell, he becomes conscious of where he is, lifts up his eyes, and begins to cry in pain.

God’s Revenge Against His Enemies

   “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). “Vengeance” is a word most people don’t hear anymore; it is another word for revenge, but in the Greek it carries more of a meaning like judicial revenge. The revenge of men is always carnal and done in a wrong spirit; but the revenge of God is that of a holy and righteous Judge, who sees perfectly into the secrets of men’s hearts and lives, who sees clearly all of the insults that the wicked have hurled against God and His people, all the persecutions and mockeries they breathed against the saints, all the blasphemies and adulteries and perversions of their hearts, all the detestable, murderous lies they have schemed. The Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever” (Gen. 6:3). God has set the time limits for each man’s life upon the Earth; there has been allotted to each of them just enough time to repent from sin and put their faith in the cross of Christ.

   Their stubborn hearts have to strive with Spirit of God, working by the conscience, until it comes to a head, and they have to make a choice to serve the Lord or go their own way (Josh. 24:15). But, God said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever”: “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). It is then that God will no longer be patient. Then will His strivings with evil men cease, and they will be “thrown into Hell” (Matt. 5:29). God said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. TURN, TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS!” (Ezek. 33:11). God is “longsuffering toward us,” and “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). But sadly, most men die in an unrepentant state: “broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matt. 7:13). For this reason, “Hell has enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure” (Isa. 5:14, KJV).

Hell Fire! and Flesh Eating Worms!

Dr. Shedd said, “Jesus Christ is the Person who is responsible for the doctrine of Eternal Perdition. He is the Being with whom all opponents of this theological tenet are in conflict. Neither the Christian church, nor the Christian ministry are the authors of it. The Christian ministry never would have invented the dogma; neither would they have preached it in all the Christian centuries, like Jeremiah, with shrinking and in tears, except at the command of that same Lord God who said to the weeping prophet, ‘Whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak’ (Jer. 1:7).”[2]

It makes sense that the Son of God, who went through all the trouble of dying for the sins of the world to save men from Hell’s torments, should also be the One who would introduce the revelation of Hell through His teachings, with the most striking clarity…

Christ said:

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to Hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’[3]

And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into Hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched–where

‘Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.’

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’” (Mark 9:43-48).

Christ said:

“As the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:40-42).

Mental and Emotional Anguish

   Not only will the torments of Hell be physical, they will also be mental and emotional. “There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:42), not only for the physical pain caused by burning in flames, or from the maggots writhing and eating away at the living Hell-corpses of the damned; but, also there will be wailing and crying because of total depression, sorrow, misery, and hopelessness. All is lost! Too late to repent and believe the Gospel! TOO LATE!! “Hell has no exits!”[4] The damned have no hope of future salvation from this miserable place; they know that; it makes them nauseous to think it, as they all too well remember they must look at hideous demons, disfigured faces, caverns, sores, and smell the stench of burning flesh and rotten egg-smelling brimstone smoke (sulfurous gases):–FOR EVER AND EVER! It’s worse than any prison or dungeon or mental institution on Earth. It is HELL!

   The only respite they will have, is when they stand before the throne of God at the Last Judgment, and are then afterward thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). “The souls of the wicked are cast into Hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the Great Day” (see Luke 16:23-24; Acts 1:25; Jude 6-7; 1 Pet. 3:19).[5] One other mental torment the damned experience is the ability to see in a vision far off, into Heaven, all the godly saints they persecuted in their lifetime: “Being in torments in Hell, 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 the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I AM TORMENTED IN THIS FLAME!’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented” (Luke 16:23-25).

Fire! Fire!
Everlasting fire!
Can you see the funeral pyre?
Millions of corpses burning in fire!
Contemplate a scene so dire!

Worms! Worms!
Flesh-eating worms!
Can you see them in their arms?
Millions, billions of maggot worms!
Nauseous, putrid, revolting germs!

Sadness and sorrow!
Eternal sorrow!
Suffering in fire:–there’s no tomorrow!
Only burning, and worms, and sorrow!
Turn to Christ or burn with sorrow!

Those Who Practice Lawlessness

   Jesus said “those who practice lawlessness” will be cast “into the furnace of fire.” What does this mean? Since “repenting, and believing in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15) are the necessary requirements for salvation from Hell, it follows that continual impenitence and unbelief are the means by which men become damned to Hell. The apostle Paul said of the wicked: “In accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” and also, that the “Lord Jesus” will be “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” (Rom. 2:5; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).

   “Those who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 13:41) are people who stubbornly live their lives in rebellion to the Ten Commandments and every other good law that God gave mankind. They are those who “do not obey the Gospel” or the teachings of Christ, namely, 1. Turning away from sinful thoughts, words, and deeds, and 2. Placing one’s faith in the atoning sacrifice of the cross of Christ, for the satisfaction of the wrath of God, and the forgiveness of their sins. “Those who practice lawlessness” refuse to repent from their sins and place their faith in the cross; and so, they are anti-Christian, evil-minded, enemies of God. “The wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (see Matt. 25:41-46; Rom. 2:5; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).[6]

The apostle Paul said:

“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” (Gal. 5:19-51).

and…

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

The apostle John said:

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” (Rev. 21:8).

   Universalists are people who are skeptical of what Christ meant when He said, “These will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). They ask, “Did Jesus really mean that sinners will be in Hell for eternity: in everlasting, or eternal punishment?” I reply, “With such great sins as these weighing down on them, in the universe of an eternally holy and righteous God, HOW COULD THEY NOT BE PUT AWAY INTO ETERNAL PUNISHMENT?” The punishment fits the abomination. Perhaps eternal punishment is not long enough. Perhaps the sins are so enormously awful and repulsive, that they really deserve ETERNAL, EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT, FOR EVER AND EVER. But God, in His mercy, saw fit to only give them eternal punishment. Perhaps one eternity in the torments of Hell is enough. After that eternity there is always more eternity, however. There is no end to it! When you slight God with abominable practices such as these, against “the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy” (Isa. 57:15), and you die without repenting, don’t try to tell me the punishment doesn’t fit the crime! When you stand before God’s throne in judgment over your life, “O man, who are you to reply against God?” (Rom. 9:20). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Heb. 10:31).

Ungodly Heretics Who Reject the Doctrine of Hell

   There is an imagined belief in universal salvation, that all those in Hell, will eventually be purified from their sins, as in a kind of Purgatory, and then by God’s enduring love and mercy, will be eventually allowed into Heaven. This is not taught by Scripture. In 553 A.D., the Fifth Ecumenical Council issued forth its 15 Anathemas Against Origen, a heretic of the early church, who taught the universalist doctrine. Sometimes universalists try to make Scripture say what it does not, and they bring out the most obscure meanings from texts which are speaking about some completely different subject. I agree with George Whitefield, who said in a critique of universalists and annihilationists: “If the positive threats of God concerning the eternity of Hell-torments, are already found insufficient to deter men from sin, what a higher pitch of wickedness may we imagine they will quickly arrive at, when they are taught to entertain any hopes of a future recovery out of them; or, what is still worse, that their souls are hereafter to be annihilated, and become like the beasts that perish? But woe unto such blind leaders of the blind. No wonder if they both fall into that ditch.”[7]

   Probably the strongest Biblical evidence against the universalist doctrine would come from these Scriptures:

Matthew 25:41, 46: “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…these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Notice that this incredibly strong statement about the eternal torments of Hell was uttered by JESUS! Whatever other unbalanced and sentimental views you may have about “God’s love” and “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild,” need to be side aside at this moment. There is a time when Jesus will manifest His other attributes of holiness, justice, and power, in the “day on which He will judge the world in righteousness” (Acts 17:31).

   Another thought is that the wicked, who have come under the everlasting curse of rejecting the Gospel and living unrighteous lives, and who have no more time allowed to repent of sin (Luke 16:24-25), are cast into “the everlasting fire” which originally was “prepared for the devil and his angels.” Because these men joined in that same rebellion against God and His Word that the demons did, then these too, along with the devil and his angels “will go away into everlasting punishment”:–not temporary punishment, not Purgatory, but EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT IN HELL FIRE. Out of a sentimental attachment to non-Christian family and friends, universalists try to reason that if these loved ones are cast into Hell, then it will only be for a time, and that God must somehow be “too loving” to let them burn in fire for ever and ever. But no! On the contrary, the Lord Jesus said they will go to “everlasting punishment”:– to the exact same place the “devil and his angels” are put: THE ETERNAL HELL. To un-Biblically imagine that men will be saved after suffering in Hell for a time period, but not to imagine that demons will also be saved out of Hell–is not logically consistent. And no honest universalist really believes that demons will be saved after suffering in Hell!

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.” Note: the beast and the false prophet are ungodly men. And after death, they are put into the lake of fire–the same place as the devil. Are these men spoken of as suffering there only for a time period, and then by “God’s love and mercy” allowed to go to Heaven? FORGET IT! The Word says, “They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” Further down in the text, it says the same of all the ungodly: “and anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).

   Easy-believists,[8] are false Christians who think that somehow “God’s grace” is so great that impenitence and carnality and ungodliness have no eternal consequences, and that simply “believing in Jesus” at one time will save them from God’s wrath and judgment to come. A lot of these people like the “Romans Road to Salvation” message (based on Romans 3:10-12, 23; 6:23; 5:8; 10:9-10, 13; 5:1; 8:1, 38-39), an incredibly easy “belief”-based gospel that requires no repentance from sin or holy living. I believe the “Romans Road” is a FALSE GOSPEL. Take a look at it closely sometime. It’s a shame there are so many Gospel tracts based on this. It’s all about “God’s love” and “believe in your heart”: no repenting from sinful ways or any exhortation to “holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

   I would put “the Four Spiritual Laws” in almost the same category, but the “Romans Road” is worse, in my opinion. In our former thought, we took a look at how the devil and his angels are thrown into the lake of fire, and that the ungodly go to the same place, and all of them together will burn day and night forever and ever (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:10, 15). James takes the easy-believists of our day, and puts them into the same category as demons: “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:14-20).

What You Must Do to Be Saved!

   “Repent, and believe in the Gospel!” (Mark 1:15).
(1) Turn away from all sin in your life, stop sinning, turn your life over to God, resolve within yourself that you are going to live for God, obey the Ten Commandments, and all other righteous laws in the Bible, resist temptations, and make Jesus the absolute Lord and Master over your life: “without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). (2) Believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man; that He is the “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5); that “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6); that God chose “Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on Earth or things in Heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20); that God “wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).

   That “in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7); realizing “the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7); “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanses your conscience from dead works to SERVE THE LIVING GOD” (Heb. 9:14); “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18); “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so WE ALSO SHOULD WALK IN NEWNESS OF LIFE!” (Rom. 6:4).


[1] “The Second Sermon of the Passion” in Sermons, or Homilies, Appointed to Be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen Elizabeth.

[2] William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), volume 2, p. 680.

[3] Isaiah 66:24: “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.” This verse was quoted by Jesus as a description of Hell.

[4] Leonard Ravenhill, “Hell Has No Exits.” November 15, 1985.

[5] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 32.1.

[6] Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 33.2.

[7] George Whitefield, “The Eternity of Hell-Torments.” 1738.

[8] John Wesley said: “Beware of Solifidianism; crying nothing but, ‘Believe, Believe!’ and condemning those as ignorant or legal who speak in a more Scriptural way” (A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, Chapter 25, Question 34)—other names for easy-believists are solifidians, non-lordship salvation, free grace theology, cheap grace, libertines, antinomians (anti-law), and carnal Christians.

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About John Boruff

John Boruff is a husband, father, blogger, and life insurance agent.
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