Then I saw a great white throne and
Him who sat on it,
The earth and the heavens fled
from his presence, and
there was no place for them.
God’s final action against sin will be at the Great White Throne judgment. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence, earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, 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 (Rev. 20:11-15, ESV).
Some believe that there will be different levels of punishment in hell – the Bible is not clear on this. However, the books are opened to examine the works done while living on the earth. These books are used for judgment of the unsaved and perhaps determine their punishment – the saved are saved by grace alone and not works (see Eph. 2:8-9). The Psalmist makes this statement: “Give to them according to their works and according to the evil of their deeds; give to them according to the work of their hands; render them their due reward” (Ps. 28:4, (EVS). This verse seems to indicate that the saved will be judged for rewards, and the unsaved will be judged for punishment based on their works done while living on the earth.
The Bible states that some people will be cast into outer darkness. “The sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12, ESV). In eternity, all light will come from the glory of God – the glory of God will not be in hell – there will be total darkness. People can choose to accept the salvation and Lordship of Christ while living in earthly bodies, but if they reject Christ, He will reject them at the Great White Throne judgment.
Some people believe that those living in hell will be in isolation; if this is true, – there will be no fellowship with others in hell.
Perhaps, the best description of hell was given by Jesus in the story about Lazarus and the rich man. “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” (Luke 16: 22b-25, ESV).
We are also told that not all who think they are going to heaven will go there. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21, ESV). Jesus said there is only one way to heaven: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6b, ESV).
The Bible says that we can all know if we are saved. “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:16-17, ESV).
Scripture quotations marked ESV are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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