There are many cults today that deny the doctrine of the eternality of hell. Some of these groups (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists) instead claim that God will merely annihilate those have not turned from their sins.
However, the Scriptures describe hell as a place of conscious torment, where sinners will undergo “eternal punishment” (Mat.25:46), being “tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev.20:10). Hell is a place of “eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thes.1:9), “unquenchable fire” (Mat.3:12; Mark 9:43), a place of “utter darkness” (Jude 13) where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28).
For more information on the biblical evidence of an eternal hell, please see:
Christian Apologetics Research Ministry: Is Hell Eternal?
A common objection by those who deny the eternality of hell—or the existence of a place called hell altogether—is that it doesn’t seem logical or fair that God would punish sinners for all eternity for having sinned against Him in time. If we have committed a finite number of sins, they ask, how can we deserve an infinite punishment?
The answer, once again, can be found in the Scriptures. God is holy (Isa.6:3), perfectly righteous and just (Psa.7:11) and therefore cannot look upon sin (Hab.1:13). In fact, the Bible says he abhors those who practice evil (Psa.5:5). He is eternal and everlasting (Isa.40:28) and infinite in power and might (Job 37:23; 1 Tim.6:15-16). We have sinned against this infinite, eternal, omnipotent God, and therefore we deserve eternal punishment for our crimes.
See, it’s not the quantity, but the quality of the crime that determines the extent of the punishment of a criminal. And the quality of the crime is determined by the quality of whom we commit the crime against.
This can be seen in our own criminal justice system. If I step on an ant, I’m not likely to face any legal consequences. If I needlessly kill a domestic cat, however, I could be sued by the owner of the animal, and even prosecuted for cruelty to animals. If I take the life of another human being without a just cause, I will most certainly end up receiving life imprisonment and/or the death penalty. The greater the worth of an individual, the greater the crime and the more severe the punishment.
And the fact of the matter is that we, utterly depraved and wicked sinners that we are, have offended a God who is infinite in power and glory and purity, and infinite in worth. We have dared to raise our fists to the heavens and rebel against our very Lord and King. We have dared to curse and blaspheme this Almighty Creator, and pronounce ourselves as lords and gods of our own lives. If we’ve not done these things outright and externally, we do them indirectly every time we choose to willingly sin. As the Puritans would rightfully declare, sin is absolute lunacy! How dare we even think about rebelling against this great and terrible God?
But the greatest sin of all, the one that will absolutely seal our damnation in hell for all eternity, is to despise the kindness and mercy of God demonstrated at the cross of Calvary…to reject the only hope sinners have of salvation, to spurn the glorious sacrifice of Christ on the cross and trample on His precious blood, counting the greatest act of love the world has ever seen as an unclean thing. Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, died on a cross bearing the punishment of His people. He then rose again and once and for all defeated the power of sin, death and hell. For all eternity those who have repented and believed in His name will be singing, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev.5:12). It truly is insanity to reject such an infinitely worthy Savior who gave us life, and who was even willing to come to earth and die on a cross to save us from the wrath of God that we justly deserved.
"How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge his people.' It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Cased closed, methinks. But I’ll just end with one final observation. The fires of hell are for torment, and not for purification. The eternal flames can never cleanse a man of his sins; only the blood of Christ has the power to wash away our filthiness, and only the Holy Spirit can regenerate our hearts and make us love Him. Therefore those who died in their sins will still be vile and abominable and unrepentant and God-hating in hell. (See Revelation 9:20 and 16:8-11. Even after experiencing God’s very wrath and judgments, they did not repent of their evil deeds nor give Him glory; they continued to curse and blaspheme God.)
And worse still, God’s common grace will be removed from them, thus eliminating any external appearance of goodness or loveliness from their being. All the saints and angels and creatures made for the glory of God will then behold these rebels for what they really are—utterly horrid and grotesque monsters of iniquity. As one preacher put it, the day they are thrown into hell, all of creation will rejoice and sing because the Lord has finally rid the earth of them.
Sinners in hell will continue to hate God in hell, and will continue to receive the just punishment they deserve—for all eternity.
A good video on hell by John Piper: