39 • The Reality of Eternal Conscious Punishment of Unbelievers
We have heard that wicked people who have rejected God will be punished. And this is true. Justice will be served. Many people agree that evil people should be punished for their sins, but they don’t agree with the duration and extent of God’s punishment. They say that people in hell will be punished, but only for a certain time and then they will be annihilated. In other words, they will cease to exist. Or others say God will punish them and then after some time, maybe after a few hundred thousand years, they will be reunited with God. Others say that after death we will be reincarnated and given another chance to be good. All these arguments are only opinions and speculations. What matters is what God’s Word says, even if it is an unpopular teaching. Nevertheless, it remains God’s Word.
Hebrews 9:27 says that man is appointed to die once and then the judgement. We need truth from God’s Holy Book. We shall know the truth and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Listen to God’s words in Matthew 25:46: ‘And these will go into eternal punishment.’ ‘These’ refer to those who didn’t serve God. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says that when the Lord is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, He will take vengeance on those who do not know God and did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They shall be punished with everlasting destruction in the presence of the Lord. Revelation 14:11: ‘And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever.’ Jesus warned about the reality of eternal punishment more than any other person in God’s Book.
Jesus said in Mark 9:43-48, ‘if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, for it is better for you to enter life maimed than for you to enter hell with both hands where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched……..and if your eye causes you to stumble it is better to pluck it out and enter the Kingdom of Heaven than to have two eyes and be cast into hell where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ In this passage and in Matthew 18:6-9 Jesus meant that we should take the most drastic steps with our bodies and kill sin to escape the coming torments in hell’s fire. The eternity of hell is exemplified by His description of hell. Three times in Mark 9:43-48 hell is described as an eternal reality and not merely as a rubbish heap (dump) as some theologians would say. And what is evident is that what the suffering God-haters will experience will be constant, conscious and forever (Luke 16:24; Mark 14:21)!
If someone murders a person, he may get a life sentence or even a death sentence. But we know that a murder takes only a few seconds to commit, even if it was planned weeks before the murder took place. It works the same way with rape or theft. It only takes a short time to commit the crime, but the sentence fits the crime considering the dignity of the person against whom it was committed. That’s why sins committed against an infinite, worthy Person (God) will receive an infinite, worthy sentence. Therefore, eternal punishment (Daniel 9:2) is fitting for those who reject Jesus Christ and His redeeming work on the cross (John 3:36).
Truth to consider: A reality that many people deny but a truth clearly taught in Scripture is the eternity of human existence. We will all live forever (Ecclesiastes 3:11), either in God’s glorious presence or without God’s glory; either in heaven or in hell (Daniel 9:2). It is a shocking and dreadful reality for those who hate God!
Read: Hebrews 9:27; John 8:32; Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:11; Mark 9:43-48; Matthew 18:6-9; Luke 16:24; Mark 14:21; Daniel 9:2; John 3:36; Ecclesiastes 3:11.