The Lake of Fire: What’s It Like, Who Goes There, and Why?
‘And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.’
Can there be any more sobering reality than what we read in the verse noted above? And should you not, my dear friend, contemplate your own eternal existence after your earthly demise? Read this with fear and trembling. I write without the slightest equivocation. If you die without being a Christian, without being born again through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, if you never gain the life of God in your soul, then upon your death your soul will immediately go to hell, a place of conscious, eternal torment, where the fire is never quenched and the worm never dies. As bad as hell is, however, you would give everything you have, to stay there in hell for a million years.
Why? Because those now in hell know what you will know when you transition to there. They fear more than anything ‘that day’. And what is ‘that day’? It is the great white throne judgement, because there, on the day of Christ’s return, all the dead, unsaved sinners who have ever lived, great and small, will stand before God and give account of the deeds they have done, according to the things written in the book. Know this too, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a two-edged sword. Paul says that because Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, he is the first fruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20). Paul wonderfully and vividly lays out the case for glorified bodies for the saints. At the last trumpet, the dead will be raised imperishable. However, the reuniting of body and soul on the new earth for believers is also true of unbelievers at the great white throne judgement. Daniel says, ‘Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life; but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt,’ (Daniel 12:2). Jesus tells us not to fear man who can kill the body. Rather we are to fear God who can destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matthew 10:28). And the parable of the rich man in hell makes clear that he possessed a body. He was asking Lazarus to place a drop of water on his tongue to quench his thirst (Luke 16:24). It is one thing to suffer in one’s own soul in hell, it is quite another to suffer in body and soul in the final judgement.
So, if you are a hell-bound sinner, why should you fear the great white throne of judgement more than hell itself? Because you, and every other unbeliever, will stand, body and soul, before King Jesus to witness the charges against you and them. As you stand, by yourself, before the thrice Holy God, the jealous and avenging God, who will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, your thoughts will be judged (Romans 2:16). Jesus will summon every thought you ever had — your lusts, anger, bitterness, bigotry, jealousy, envy — and place them alongside his holy law. You will be speechless (Romans 3:19). You will have no defense. You are doomed and you know it. Then your words will be summoned, because Jesus said that every careless word will be judged (Matthew 12:36). All those harsh, foul, sensual, vile, blasphemous, lying, manipulating, degrading words you spoke throughout your life will be placed alongside the purity of the One with whom we all must give an account. No defense there either. Finally, your every action will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12; Matthew 16:27). All of the millions of times you disobeyed God, in what we might call small or large ways, will be evaluated in light of his perfect law. Every jealous, selfish, licentious, sensual, idolatrous act you ever did, will be judged by the One whose eyes are a flaming fire, whose feet are like bronze made to glow in a furnace. Not only your sins of commission, but perhaps even more dreadfully, your sins of omission will be judged. You will remember the times you passed by a needy man on the street and did nothing to help him. You will remember the multitudinous times you neglected to care for your spouse, children, parents, or close friends. You will remember the times you hated instead of loved your enemy. You will also be unable to make a defense before God for your actions.
With all of this evidence now displayed before you and the Holy One, you will hear those words you knew were coming but have dreaded the entire time you were in hell, the most awful words which could ever be uttered, ‘Depart from Me, you accursed one, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Matthew 25:41). And as you are being led from the great white throne of God to be cast into the lake of fire, you will know for certain, without the slightest equivocation, that you are receiving the exact judgement you deserve.
The lake of fire is the second death. Many have noted that those who are born once, will die twice; and those who are born twice will die once. And what will you do in the lake of fire? Presumably the same thing you have been doing in hell from the moment you arrived there, but now, due to the union of body and soul, the pain, horror, and awareness will be infinitely magnified. As in hell, there will be weeping or wailing along with the gnashing of teeth. I have heard the anguish and grief of unmitigated wailing coming from one who has suddenly lost a child or a spouse. Perhaps you have also. It is terrible. The wailing in the lake of fire will be infinitely worse. Every sense will be heightened there. Though you are alone in darkness, you nonetheless will hear the hopeless wailing of the damned. With your eyes which on earth looked at pornography or read blasphemous books denying the Christ whom you have always hated, you will look on untold, unimaginable horror. With your ears which listened to wicked jokes and took in perverse, godless, licentious ideas, you will now hear the cries of the condemned. They beg for mercy but there is none forthcoming. With your mouth, which uttered blasphemous, vile, crude, demeaning speech, you will curse God and his servants with loud voices of contempt, hatred, and sorrow. With your hands, which were engaged in all manner of creative sinning, building kingdoms for yourself which you used to oppress other people, they will now reach up to heaven, begging for a touch from the God whom you rejected, but there is no reciprocation from the Holy One. Your feet, which were swift to run to the shedding of innocent blood and to take you to places of sensual delight and debauchery, will then seek to run for refuge, but they will be like feet stuck in cement. There is no deliverance from judgement. There is no hope. You are lost in a most dreadful judgement. There is no mercy in the lake of fire.
Do you think this is over the top? My friend, I am so completely limited in my ability to communicate to you the horrors of hell and the lake of fire. It is infinitely worse than I am able to portray to you.
You will have no second chance after you die. You must come to Jesus in this life or you will not come at all. And can you be so sure that you will live past today? Don’t you know people who one day seemed to be in picture perfect health, and the next day were dead! The devil’s great ploy is to tell you that you have plenty of time to get religion. ‘Don’t worry,’ he says, ‘about that now. Live it up, then maybe when you are old and tired and have nothing better to do, you can become a Christian.’ But if you persist as you are, then surely you will die in your sins, be cast into hell, and eventually end up in the lake of fire. Then, my friend, what will you do? Paul the Apostle said, ‘Today is the day of salvation.’ Jesus said, ‘Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, I will give you rest.’ He also said, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes on Me has eternal life.’ He said to the thief on the cross who had believed on him, ‘Today you will be with Me in paradise.’ Isaiah says, ‘Seek the Lord while he may be found. Call upon him while he is near.’ If you believe on the Lord Jesus, he promises to forgive all your sins, to give you his righteousness and holiness, to hear your prayers, and to take you to heaven when you die. Where else can you go for relief from sin, hell, and the second death? Why die in your sins? There is no need. Run to Jesus! He is ready and willing to save you right now.
And if Jesus has saved you, why not bow reverently this very moment and thank him for saving your soul and delivering you from hell fire? It matters not one bit your lot in life, your financial or professional status or accomplishments. Rejoice, my friend, that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Al Baker is an Evangelistic Revival Preacher with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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