WE BELIEVE in the everlasting punishment of the wicked (in the sense of eternal torment) who wilfully reject and despise the love of God manifested in the great sacrifice of His only Son upon the cross for their salvation – Matt 25:46; 13:49,50; Luke 12:47,48; 2 Thess 1:8,9; Rom 6:23; Rev 20:11-15. We believe that the devil and his angels and whosoever is no found written in the Book of Life shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death – Rev 19:20; Rev 20:10-15.
Some people try and reject that a God of love would punish anyone eternally. However, what must be kept in mind when discussing this subject, is the perfection of God’s love must be kept in perspective with the perfection of His justice. If God excused sin, His love and justice would be out of balance, which would make Him less than perfect. For us to survive in an environment where evil prevails there must be punishment of the law-breaker. It would be inconsistent to think that God would gloss over sin and not punish the wicked.
I. THE DURATION OF PUNISHMENT.
New Testament is quite clear in detailing the length of punishment for the wicked. It uses the Greek word “AIONIOS” = forever and ever.
Matthew 25:46a, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment.”
Old Testament is equally clear in detailing the length of punishment for the wicked. It uses the Hebrew word “Owlam” – the vanishing point, a mathematical term for infinity, continuance, always eternity.
Dan 12:2b, “Some to share the everlasting contempt.”
2. Same word used for punishment as eternal life.
Both the above passages also refer to the length of life for the righteous. In both cases the exact same adjective is used.
II. THE DESCRIPTION OF PUNISHMENT.
1. Separation from the presence of God.
Thess 1:9, “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
2. The indignation and wrath of God.
Romans 2:8-9a, “But to those who are self seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil.”
3. Eternal Fire.
Jude 1:7b, “… suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
4. Eternal Torment.
Revelation 14:11a, “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever and they have no rest day or night.”
5. Outer Darkness.
1:13b, “… for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
6. Wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:50, “And cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
7. The Second Death.
Revelation 20:14, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death.”
a. The first death is what everyone who physically dies experiences.
b. At the first death there is a separation of the just and the unjust.
1. The Unjust
They can expect judgment. Their souls go to Hades, a holding place for the dead.
16:22b – 23a, “The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off.”
c. The just are resurrected at the Second Coming. (See Lesson 16 on the Second Coming.)
d. The unjust are waiting for the Great White Throne Judgement which occurs after the Millennium. Rev 20:5.
1. At this judgement, the unrighteous have their lives and deeds exposed. Rev 20:12.
2. There is no recourse for them because their sin will be evident. Rev 20:13, “And they were judged each one according to his works.”
3. The final judgement is the lake of fire which burns with fire and brimstone. This is the second death. (At this moment, there is no human soul in the lake of fire.)
Revelation 22:8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
III. WHO WILL BE ETERNALLY PUNISHED?
1. Those who do not know God. 2 Thess 1:8a.
2. Those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thess 1:8b.
3. Those who have sinned, Rom 6:23.
4. Those who take the mark of the beast, Rev 14:9-11.
5. All those whose names are not found in the Book of Life, Rev 20:15.
6. The devil, the beast and the false prophet, Rev 20:10.
7. The cowardly, unbeliever, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and liars,
8. The angels who did not keep their proper domain, Jude 1:6.
As terrifying as the prospect of eternal suffering is, we should in no way stop warning people of this impending danger. Jesus speaks more about it than any other preacher in the New Testament. He came to demonstrate God’s love which ensures deliverance from such a place.
May Christians never speak about eternal punishment without ardent compassion and a spirit aflame with the desire of seeing no one condemned to such a fearful judgement.
Copyright (c) 1999, ps John Iuliano. Reproduced by Permission. All rights reserved.