Punishment and Suffering PART 1b (Does God Punish People?)

Thank you for everyone who have read the other half of this part, and for those who still haven’t read about it, you can read it here.

To make all things clear, I am not writing to address specific group of people. When it comes in telling about the Biblical truth, it will be harsh for some, just like what 2 Timothy 3:16-17 stated, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Furthermore, Hebrews 4:12-13 stated, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” And for those who’ll take this series as an offensive one, I am very sorry but it’s what the Bible states, but don’t close your doors without even reading the other parts (I am still on part 1b).

IV. METHODS OF GOD’S PUNISHMENT

A. TEMPORAL PUNISHMENT (It has been discussed in the first part)

B. ETERNAL PUNISHMENT

(NOTE: Enumeration will be based on what is written in the Bible. You can check the whole chapter of every verses that I quote if you want. :))

i. A PLACE OF PUNISHMENT 

  • For Fallen Angels:  “And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.” -2 Peter 2:2-4
  • For the Devil and His Angels: “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” –Matthew 25:41
  • For the Beast and the False Prophet: “And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.” -Revelation 19:20
  • For Wicked Humans: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” -Revelation 21:8
  • For Those Who Reject The Good News: “And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” – Matthew 10:11-15

I don’t have to explain further because it has already been explained carefully throughout the Scriptures.

ii. HINTS OF HELL IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

  • The Wicked Perish in Death: ” For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. Man in his pomp will not remain; he is like the beasts that perish. This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts. Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.” -Psalm 49:10-15
  • There Will Be Judgment for the Wicked. ” They wrong the barren, childless woman, and do no good to the widow. Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by His power; they rise up when they despair of life. He gives them security, and they are supported, and His eyes are upon their ways. They are exalted a little while, and then are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like the heads of grain. -Job 24:21-24
  • There Will Be Eternal Punishment. ““And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh (Isaiah 66:24).” And to support this more, Daniel 12:2 states “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, andsome to shame and everlasting contempt.”

iii. DESCRIPTION OF HELL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

  • Eternal Destruction and A Place of Separation from God: “Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with hHs mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” –2 Thessalonians 1:6-9
  • Second Death: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” -Revelation 21:8
  • Place of Condemnation: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” -Matthew 23:33
  • Place of Torment: “…and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” -Luke 16:23 The story was about Lazarus and the Rich Man (Check the whole chapter for complete details)
  • Place of Weeping and Grinding of Teeth: “…while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).”  and to support that, “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:30)
  • The Place Where Body and Soul is Destroyed. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” –Matthew 10:28
  • Eternal Punishment: “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” –Matthew 25:46
  • Eternal Chains: “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day” -Jude 1:6
  • Eternal Fire: “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. (Matthew 18:8)” and to support that, Jude 1:7 states “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.”
  • The Lake of Fire: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” –Revelation 20:15
  • The Everlasting Gloom and Darkness: “wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.” -Jude 1:13

iv. JESUS CHRIST’S VIEW ON HELL

Most of the Biblical Teachings about Hell and warnings to those who are wicked and wouldn’t accept The Good News came from the lips of Jesus Christ. And to show you how serious He is about those things, I am going to quote what He said:

  • I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:11-12).
  • Have No Fear

    “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. -Matthew 10:26-33

  • Not Peace, but a Sword

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 10:34-39

  • THE PARABLE OF TEN VIRGINS “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” -Matthew 25:1-13                
  • THE FINAL JUDGMENT  “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will say to those on His left, Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, jyou did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” -Matthew 25:31-45
  • TEMPTATION TO SIN: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ -Mark 9:42-48
  • THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS:  There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” -Luke 16:19-31
  • “So He said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek Me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “Will He kill Himself, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them,“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. I have much to say about you and much to judge, but He who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from Him.” They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said to them,“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And He who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” As He was saying these things, many believed in Him.
  • GLORIFIED JESUS CHRIST ON REVELATION: ““Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” -Revelation 1:17b-18 

v. ADDITIONAL WRITINGS ABOUT HELL

Here, I am going to quote, R.C. Sproul on his writings about Hell on his book Essential Truths of the Christian Faith (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House, 1992), pp. 285-287:

“We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.

Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.

Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.” (John H. Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell [Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 1991], 75.)

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.”

VI. CONCLUSION FOR THIS CHAPTER

We always hear people say “Hell is real” but only few will really admit that hell is real because it is God’s place for perfect justice. Hell is not a place for injustice. We even all deserve it, but God is loving so He sent His Son Jesus Christ to become an atonement for our sins. One of the marks of a true Christian is his capacity to accept that God is Just, Holy and Righteous and He has all the rights to make Hell as His place for judgment. You might ask me then why do I have to focus on this. I have to talk about it as early as today because it is the truth, and if you really love the people around you, you will tell these things out of love. If you truly love the people around you, you will tell them the truth even if it hurts them.

Someone before told me that people do not need great emphasis on this, and sad to say those words came from someone who professed to be a Christian. But do we really need to hide the truth about God’s punishment when even Jesus Christ Himself talked about it? If the Gospel was not offensive, Jesus Christ might have not been nailed on the Cross. He was accused by being a great offense to the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees. If the Gospel was not offensive, Apostle Paul, Peter, John and the rest of Christ’s followers will not suffer during the early days of Christianity. Yes, it is offensive because it confronts people with our sinfulness. It confronts of our helplessness without Jesus Christ. 

And one thing that we also should remember, the Scripture already warned us about false teachings. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” -2 Timothy 4:3-4 That’s why we should hold tightly to the truth written in the Bible.

PS: Stay tuned for more Biblical Truths on Punishment and Suffering. We are still on the 1st part, and we still have 6 parts to tackle about. Thank you for patiently reading this blog entry. I write out of love, and I pray that’s how you also see these writings. God bless you all. All glory and honor belongs to God alone. 🙂

Related Articles: 

Punishment and Suffering PART 1a (Does God Punish People?)

 

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