"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew, chapter 10, verse 28. (KJV).
There is a point I like to make, whenever possible, to folks in churches, coffee houses and elsewhere, about time and eternity. It's a simple activity, takes only a few minutes, and, I like to hope, has long lasting impact on those folks' thoughts.
Basically, I tell them this: We are going to see if you know how long it takes a minute to pass. On my signal, close your eyes and sit quietly. I will continue to talk and move around while your minute is passing. Please don't sneak a look at your watch. If the person next to you starts to move, or speaks to you, quietly ignore them and continue the countdown of your minute. When you think a minute has passed, just open your eyes and look at me or gently raise your hand - I'll see you. Ready? Let's begin - start now!"
Usually, within about 30 seconds people will respond, thinking a minute has passed. I have known others who were actually still on their countdown after two minutes. But when most of them have responded, I'll typically say this:
Most of you are pretty accurate with your estimations - you were only about 10-15 seconds off. But for some of you, time must pass awfully fast. Time travels at a snail's pace for others. Here's the point we want to make, though: we can't even get a good grip on the length of a single minute. How many minutes do you think there are in an eternity? How prepared are we for that?
Yet, we carry on in our daily lives like we have all the time in the world to make certain decisions, which simply isn't true. But this is true - that we will have all the time of eternity to enjoy heaven and all the wonders of God - or all the miseries of hell and separation from God. We need to think about that - but only for a minute!
We have no guarantees of time to think, act, or do anything beyond this point. Salvation is a free gift from God that will keep us from suffering for eternity in hell, or allow us to enjoy the grace of God and all His glory forever. Need another minute to think about it? I sure hope it'll be there for you.
Hell, and all its variant names, is a place or condition of total separation from God. All of His compassion, His grace, His mercy, His tenderness, His loving kindness, His provision for good - none of these will be available in Hell. Only in heaven will they be found - and then, forever and forever. The wonderful Gospel song "Amazing Grace" says that when we've been there ten thousand years we will have only just begun. How true and how wonderful!
A well-known song in rock n' roll circles says that "if there's a rock 'n roll heaven, they gotta have a hell of a band." That thought is utterly unsupported in the Bible. There will be no music in hell, no comfort, no companionship, no relief - just tortured souls tormented further by the wails, moans, screams and cries of others in that miserable place. Eternity in hell is the opposite of eternity in heaven with God and Jesus.
In His love, God sends no one to hell. It's kind of like going to a bus depot with only two lines running, in opposite directions. Our only two options are heaven or hell; God allows us to make that choice for ourselves.
Hellfire, brimstone, the sulfurus pit, misery, suffering - and an eternity of utter regret - are the basics of hell for those who choose not to accept God's free gift of grace through salvation in Christ Jesus.