What can we know biblically about hell?

1 Min Read

The first thing to say here is that our Lord Jesus spoke about hell generally in pictorial terms. For example, He spoke about hell as the outer darkness, but He also spoke about it in terms of fire, which suggests light. These are ways of describing the reality of hell that we can grasp because they belong to our experience. We know what fire is, that it burns and gives pain. We know what darkness is because it separates and isolates. This is human picture language to describe the reality. I do not mean that the reality is just a picture but that, if anything, it is greater and more awful than the pictures given. Scripture seems to tell us little about hell beyond these pictures. It tells us more about what it is like to be in heaven and what the new heavens and new earth will be like. I think these two pictures are the important ones.

Jesus said there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, which indicates that this is a world in which there is recrimination, not just that there is no chance for repentance but no desire for it. To put it another way, if the seed of regeneration flowers in our glorification, then, similarly, the seed of hatred against God comes to its full consummation in being alienated from God and outside His presence. The book of Revelation indicates that what people have been in this life, they will be fully in the next life. In the same way, it indicates that what we Christians have been here will flourish and come to its flowering in heaven. That is an awesome thing to contemplate, which we don’t do enough, the way our forefathers did. That concept was one of the things that filled them with a sense of seriousness and awe. I think most people with any biblical sense would be conscious that we have lost that sense of seriousness and awe in the Christian church. So many of our churches seem to be driven by what will give us pleasure, what we will enjoy, and very little sense of the awesomeness of God’s holiness.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Sinclair Ferguson and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.