Is there suffering in Hell?
How could a loving God ever consider casting man into a lake of fire and leaving him there to suffer for all eternity? This is not an easy question to consider on many levels, but it is one which intrigues the minds of so many. Is it possible that we may not see the horrendous nature of sin and what divine justice demands for punishment? Is it possible that we may have developed a wrong view of God by overemphasizing His goodness, and that wrong view of Him is part of the problem? Whether we can answer these two questions or others which might come to mind really is not the issue. The underlying issue is, “What does God reveal that He will do with the wicked?”
Every sin will be punished. The writer of Hebrews looked at the Old Testament and said, “The word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward” (Heb. 2:2). The Holy Spirit of God affirmed that every sin committed for the thousands of years since Adam had been justly rewarded. Our God delights in forgiveness and rejoices in showing mercy (Micah 7:18), but He is also just. The issue before us is, “What does He reveal that He will do with the wicked?”
The sin of angels is punished by God with continuing suffering. Both Jude and Peter (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4) describe the rebellion of angels. What did a loving God do with them? He did not simply destroy them, but He bound them with chains in the darkness of hell awaiting a coming judgment where they will be cast into an everlasting fire (Matt. 25:41).
The rich man who refused to share with the beggar, Lazarus, suffered in the fires of Hades. What did a loving God do with this selfish, rich man? Taken from his body, he was in torments, begging for one drop of water to cool his tongue. His words, “I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24), show what love and justice demanded from both Lazarus and the rich man.
Those who worshipped the beast suffered consciously in the fire of God’s judgment. “If any man worship the beast . . . he himself shall drink of the wrath of God. . . . He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone . . . And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night” (Rev. 14:9-11). How will a loving God deal with the man who rebels against Him? Certainly not simply casting him into the lake of fire where he will immediately burn up and cease to exist. It is the loving God who speaks of fire and brimstone lasting forever and ever and never having any rest from that punishment.
Remember the issue is, “What does God say about hell?” The options are clear—eternal bliss with God or eternal darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Your choice!