The subject of the final punishment of reprobates is fraught with inexpressible sadness. Some who are moved no doubt by a generous impulse, have sought to eliminate it altogether by holding to a belief of the ultimate salvation of all rational creatures (Universalism). Others have attempted to relax the torments of the damned by limiting their duration or by urging the view that reprobates vanish into nonexistence (conditionalism or annihilationism). Still others feel that the whole topic is in bad taste and that it is wise to pass it under silence altogether.
Yet on this theme the Bible speaks very plainly, and what the Bible says the evangelical believer unhesitatingly accepts and proclaims.
The Nature Of Hell
On this topic the Scriptures use various forms of language, destined no doubt to convey a cumulative impression.
1. Separation from God. “Depart from me” (Matt. 7:23; 25:41), “these shall go away” (Matt. 25:46), and cast him out (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Luke 13:28), “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), “without are the dogs” etc. (Rev. 22:15), far “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power” (2 Thess. 1:9)—all these phrases describe separation from God. In the same way in which life can be described as the knowledge, presence and fellowship of God (John 17:3), death and hell can be summed up as separation from him by whom we were created, for whose service we were made, and outside of whom there is nothing for man but utter futility and hopeless frustration.
2. Destruction and death (2 Thess. 1:9; Matt. 10:28; Rev. 20:14). This form of language does not so much imply in Scripture cessation of existence as complete deprivation of some element essential to normal existence. Physical death does ...1
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