Jesus Describes Hell
" ‘Their worm does not die And the fire is not quenched.' "
-Mark 9:44, emphasis added
In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that life has:
- Two entrance gates-the wide and the narrow.
- Two roads-broad and difficult.
- Two destinations-destruction and life.
- Two groups of travelers-many and few.
- Two lifestyles-the sayers and the doers.
- Two inevitable ends-being thrown in the Lake of Fire and entering the kingdom of heaven.
After the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus specifically warns everyone to flee-to avoid the Lake of Fire at all costs by doing whatever it takes to not end up there. He warns us over forty times in the Gospel of Matthew alone. Since Jesus preached on hell so much, we need to give this doctrine, tough as it may be, the attention He wants it to have. Therefore, today and tomorrow we will look at many references in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus warned about hell. Because the doctrine of hell is being lost by our generation as a true doctrine, it would be a good idea to mark these in your Bible. (Emphasis added to the verses.)
Jesus Describes Hell:The Pharisees and Sadducees who came to Jesus' baptism were vehemently asked, "Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" (3:7). Following that rebuke was an illustration of a tree that does not bear good fruit being "thrown into the fire" (3:10) and worthless chaff that is burned up "with unquenchable fire" (3:12).
In one of Christ's most well-attended sermons (probably over 30,000 people), Jesus said that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause "shall be in danger of hell fire" (5:22). In verses 29-30, He went on to warn that if one part of your body causes you to practice sin, it is better to get rid of it than have "your whole body to be cast into hell." He was convinced that there is a judgment coming for those who never turn from their sin, repent of their iniquity, and embrace Christ as their only hope. And so it was very loving to warn them of such consequences ahead.
Jesus warned to choose His narrow path because the broad one "leads to destruction" (7:13). The person who does not bear good fruit is to be "thrown into the fire" (7:19) and will hear His "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (7:23). Jesus pointed out that what matters is not merely saying the right thing-it is what you do in life that counts. Everything Jesus said about salvation in all four Gospels, and the need to bear good fruit, is summarized right here in these verses where He is basically saying: "Salvation is not based on whether or not you said and did great things; it is whether or not God did something inside of you. That is what the gospel is all about. When the gospel takes root in the heart, it brings forth good fruit."
Jesus said that the "sons of the kingdom" would be "cast out into outer darkness" (a place of inky black, impenetrable darkness) where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (8:12). In verses 28-29 we see a testimony from the other side-from a demon, an immortal intelligence, a living spirit that has phenomenal powers that are thousands of years old, and has been in the very presence of God. Look at what this demon says: "Have You come here to torment us before the time?" The demons know that Jesus is the Judge, and that there is a time of torment and inescapable judgment coming. For them, however, there is no hope, no opportunity for salvation; they chose instead to go in rebellion with the devil, thereby denying God and going against Him. But we are the ones that the angels look at in wonder. Why? Because we have the Son of God who became a Son of Man so that the sons of men could become sons of God!
In Matthew 10:15 Jesus warned that "it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" Even in hell there are levels of tolerability. For those who have grown up hearing the gospel and seeing it lived before them, it will be excruciating to have that awareness of how close they came to knowing Him, but never embracing Him, than for the person who is in hell because of being a sinner rather than rejecting Jesus. And so it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (the land characterized by homosexuality, bestiality, and sinful, grotesque licentiousness) than for the people who have had the light of the gospel upon them. Therefore, in verse 28 Jesus says to "fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (10:28).
Jesus warned that it would be "more tolerable" (Matthew 11:22-24) in the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon and the land of Sodom than for those who dwelled in cities where He'd done mighty works. Why? Because Jesus lived there; it was His hometown, and His ministry headquarters. Those people actually lived with God and chose to reject Him. Although they lived with the miracles of heaven around them, they told Jesus: "All that You do is great, but we really don't care about that. We want our sins more than You."
Whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would "not be forgiven . . . , either in this age or in the age to come" (12:32). Hell is all about unforgiven, unatoned for, and uncleansed sins. In verse 36, Jesus said that for every idle word that man speaks, he will "give account of it in the day of judgment." No one goes to hell; the condemned are cast into hell. The initial place called Hades is where people go before the judgment, and it will only be emptied momentarily at judgment time. At the end, as it says in Revelation 20, whoever does not have his name written in the Book of Life will stand before God speechless, and acknowledge that He is just and right to send him to hell.
To find this message online, click here.
For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit discoverthebook.org.