Tuesday, May 28, 2024

What Is Hell? (Sermon)

Leonard V. Johnson    About

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Greetings Everyone! Welcome to the taping of the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries! Welcome, our dear brethren and friends in Midland, Michigan; Montreal, Canada; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Buenos Aires, Argentina! Welcome! I’m your host Leonard V. Johnson. The V stands for victory! Let us all brethren and friends be able to say as our beloved Apostle Paul was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Just what is hell?

And no, it’s not living with my wife.

No worries – I dearly love my wife – that was just a joke.

There are billions of people worldwide who are confused about hell. What is hell? Who is it that goes to hell? And why would they go to a hell? Is hell a literal place – a geographical location that you can find on a map? Or is hell just merely a state of mind – or a metaphor, or a made-up story to threaten bad children?

Let us discover today, what God’s living word says about this subject – What is hell?

Is there any chance that you may go to hell? What would you say or think if somebody had told you – that even though you are righteous, your chances of going to a hell are exactly one hundred percent!?

So, what about this place or this thing that is called hell?

Well, brethren and friends, let’s clear the cobwebs of confusion from this mystery subject.

You know – according to a Pew Research Center poll done in 2014 – Most Americans believe in heaven … and hell. Roughly seven in ten (72%) Americans say they believe in heaven. at the same time, 58% of U.S. adults also believe in hell — a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.” 1 Why the difference? Is it possible that the majority who believe in a heaven just cannot bring themselves to believe that a loving, merciful Creator God could assign a person to a place of torture and torment for all eternity?

Since ancient times (roughly from the Shang Dynasty in China, which lasted from 1556 BC to 1046 BC) Chinese people believed that the souls of the dead lived in another world: the nether world and graves were their earthly residences. So, a type of what is known as heaven.

According to Stats NZ in 2019 – and I’ll leave you a link to this below – say that more than 2 million New Zealanders say they have no religion – with a population of nearly 5 million in 2019.

And apart from this world’s supposed Christian religion, there is Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, and the Māori, and the Rātana.

Now, back in 2021, I gave a sermon that is posted on our YouTube channel called, “A Real Hellfire!”  Be sure to go check that sermon out also, it has a lot of information that we are discussing today.

Are you just one of those who would rather not think about it? Is the very thought of hell too much for you?

Well, not to be surprised, even many religious theologians are confused. Most of them don’t even believe in a literal hell.

Dr. David Shackelford and Ray Clendenen of the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary wrote, “Few would question that the Bible reveals hell as a place of spiritual and emotional torment for the final impenitent.” 2

However, the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary does state, “In common and theological usage, hell is the place of future punishment of the wicked dead. However,” – and this is the part I like, “since the King James Version uses the word “hell” to also signify the grave … care must be taken to prevent mistakes and confusion.” 3

The CHRISTIANITY.COM EDITORIAL STAFF claims that hell is “a place of total, conscious, eternal separation from the blessings of God.”

The CONVERSATION online states that hell is “complicated precisely because it is a term used to denote a cluster of diverse ideas in the biblical tradition.”

Got Questions states that hell is, “a place of misery and suffering; hell is where torment and anguish never cease.” And they reference Revelation chapter 14, verse 11 as proof that what they say is correct.

Christian Pure online states that hell is, “The Bible is clear that hell is a place of punishment for the wicked and unrighteous. Those who reject God and His offer of salvation, refuse to repent their sins, and trust in Jesus Christ will ultimately be consigned to this place of eternal torment.”

O’ My – eternal damnation and hellfire!

This doesn’t sound like a God you would want to worship, does it?

They are fairly consistent – an abysmal confusion!

It’s time that you learn the living truth of the LORD God!

The LORD God’s living word speaks plainly about this subject of hell.

So, what we’ve discovered from just a little research is that there are two main ideas throughout this world concerning hell. One – that people totally deny that hell even exists. And they pass hell off as a mere superstition.

Then the other is that they completely believe in – by the majority of biblical fundamentalists – that hell is a place of punishment for the wicked and unrighteous, a place of eternal torture – never-ending torment. And that hell is ruled by a forked-tailed devil with horns growing out of his head who gleefully roasts sinners on a spit – like you would a hot dog on a barbecue spit. According to this belief – this idea – there is constant wailing and screaming, crying, and shrieking coming from the sinners being roasted alive. And they are tormented like this for all eternity!

But, could this be true!? Is this dismal fate for sinners true!? But if all sinners or people who are not religious in any way go to this place of never-ending torture and torment – doesn’t it strike you as unmerciful?

After all, the stats for 2024 regarding non-religious people in the United States of America is a whopping 28%! A new study from Pew Research finds that the religiously unaffiliated – a group comprised of atheists, agnostics and those who say their religion is "nothing in particular" – is now the largest cohort in the U.S. That is nearly 96 million people!

Our Lord Jesus Christ emphatically says – in His living word – “ … ‘unless you repent [and believe the gospel] you will all likewise perish.’”

Therefore if only true Christians – Christian means, followers of Jesus the Messiah – and if all others are doomed to an everlasting hell that is never quenched, that must mean that the overall majority of mankind will eventually end up in hell?

Surely that type of scenario pictures Satan the devil as much more powerful and intelligent than our Creator God of the universe and all spirits? Something surely must be wrong with such a concept of hell!

Turn with me to the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. It speaks of this Lucifer – whose name has been changed to Satan the Adversary. Isaiah chapter 14 –

Verses 12 – 14.

Notice in the Book of Luke, chapter 10, that our Lord Jesus Christ is high above any archangel or angel.

Verse 17.

Jeremiah Chapter 10 –

Verse 6.

Matthew chapter 19 –

Verse 26.

All things are possible with the LORD God! The glorious family of God – which at this time consists of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! His living word never pictures the Creator of the Universe and all things as being woefully impotent, weak, or incapable of doing something – something like saving the overall majority of everyone that has ever lived or will ever live!

The LORD God is also all merciful and They are love!

Turn with me to 1st John chapter 4 –

Verses 8-10.

Also, notice this in the Book of 2nd Peter chapter 3 –

Verses 8 – 9.

The LORD God doesn’t want ANYONE to perish (which means cease to exist), but for everyone to come to repentance and be saved.

Therefore it is completely inconceivable that such a loving, mighty, merciful Creator God would allow Satan the devil to thwart Their MASTER PLAN FOR THE REDEMPTION OF ALL MANKIND! The LORD God would never allow the people They love – recall John 3:16 – or even for that matter people that have never heard the name Jesus Christ to be tortured and tormented in a hell everlasting for all eternity! That would make the LORD God a sadistic monster, an evil fiend!

Thank Almighty God that such a concept about hell is completely false! And GOD’S LIVING WORD PROVES IT SO!

Now, in this sermon – to save time, and not be repetitive - I won’t go over with you the three separate Greek words for hell. The Greek words, Hades – the grave; Gehenna – which means “hell fire”; and Tartaroo, which is only used once in God’s living word – meaning a place of restraint for the fallen angels. It never has anything to do with men. I discuss all three of these Greek words in our sermon, “Is There A Hell?”

You know, John the Baptist – and did you catch that? John the Baptist, that is where the Baptists get their name. Are we not to follow our Lord Jesus Christ? Not John the Baptist. Now, it is true, however, that many claim that the name Baptist has different origins. But in Medieval France, the name was derived from the seigneury (or rather lord) of Batiste, which was named after Saint Jean Baptiste – also known as John the Baptist.

But, John the Baptist spoke about the final fate or destiny of the wicked. Seeing the evil-minded and blasphemous Pharisees and their ilk coming around him as he taught the Gospel, John was moved by the Spirit to exclaim, - and let’s turn to the Book of Matthew, chapter 3, so I don’t misquote this –

Matthew Chapter 3 –

Verses 7 – 8.

And he thundered these hypocrisies –

Notice verse 10.

Into the “fire.”

Verse 12.

“Unquenchable fire.”

Here, John the Baptist is describing the fate of the wicked who will not repent and change. Like cut brush, thistles, and chaff of the threshing floor, they will ultimately be cast into a fire and burned up! Now, this fire does not torture, does not just merely singe – it thoroughly consumes whatever is cast into it!

And what strange unquenchable fire was John the Baptist speaking about!? Well, let’s continue and see just what our Lord Jesus has to say about this mysterious unquenchable fire.

Our Lord Jesus first mentions this hell in Matthew chapter 5.

Notice Matthew chapter 5 –

Verse 22.

“Hellfire”! What hellfire is our Lord Jesus talking about!?

Well, the Greek word being used here is the word Gehenna. Referring to an ancient dwelling place called the Valley of Hinnom. It was a valley south of Jerusalem now called the Wadi Rababa. It became the place of child sacrifices to false gods. Later the Jews would use this place – the valley of Hinnom – to dump refuse, the dead bodies of animals, and executed criminals. So, our Lord Jesus used this valley of Hinnom as a figurative expression, as a symbol, of the final hell fire which will consume the bodies of the incorrigibly wicked who will not repent or change.

But, when will the incorrigibly wicked perish in this hellfire? When will they be cast into this Gehenna fire? Let’s find out! Turn with me in your Bible to the Book of Revelation.

Revelation chapter 20 –

Here we find a brief summary of the LORD God’s Plan for the future. We learn that when our Lord Jesus returns, Satan the devil and his minions – his demons – will be spiritually bound, and the LORD God's saints will be resurrected and will begin co-ruling with our Lord Jesus Christ on the Earth for a thousand years.

Notice, verses 1 – 4.

Notice, verse 5.

So, at the end of our Lord Jesus Christ’s Millennial rule – at the end of His thousand-year rule on planet Earth, everyone who has ever lived and died – including unborn babies that never had a chance to live – who were never a follower of our Lord Jesus, or who never even knew His glorious name, will be resurrected back to life. This awesome resurrection, of both small and great, rich and poor, is spoken of in verse 12.

It's also spoken of in the Book of Ezekiel chapter 37 – we have an online web article entitled, “Do you understand Ezekiel chapter 37.” We hope you do read it – it’s packed with valuable information. Also called the Valley of Bones.

Notice this is a resurrection unto life!

Notice that the Book of Life was opened!

Those who are coming up in this second resurrection will be judged “according to their works by the things which were written in the books” – speaking about the books of the Holy Bible! But, notice the last part here – verse 15.

They will be innumerable billions who have ever lived and those who will ever live and died – who never had a chance for salvation, or didn’t know enough for salvation – those who have lived and died in darkness, in ignorance, those who never had a chance to hear the true gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ during their lives. At that period in time, they will be offered salvation – in which God the Father will begin calling them, and their eyes will begin to be opened to the LORD God’s truth, and they will be offered their first and only chance for salvation.

Continuing here – verses 13-15.


We have a free online booklet entitled, “The Two Resurrections” that explains in detail what we are speaking about here. Be sure to read this booklet today. 

So anyone, after being given this glorious chance – just as we are in this lifetime brethren, that after being called by Father God and then turns their back on Him and the glorious offer of salvation – or those who outright refuse, will just simply be cast into the lake of fire and BURNED UP and WILL PERISH.

This is not another resurrection. This is not a third resurrection unto condemnation. Because there are only two resurrections.

This lake of fire is the Gehenna fire spoken of by our Lord Jesus Christ; it is the fire spoken of by John the Baptist, it is the hellfire that is spoken about in your Bible.

Notice in verse 14, that it is called the second death. It is A FINAL DEATH from which there will be no resurrection! This is the death penalty of sin spoken of in the Book of Romans chapter 6, verse 23.

And this is the death penalty that our Lord Jesus Christ came to save us from – all of us!

Let’s notice here in the Book of Revelation – chapter 21 –

Verse 8.

Now, how long will this hellfire last? How hot will it be?

The Apostle Peter helps us understand these questions.

Let’s turn in our Bibles to 2nd Peter chapter 3 –

Verse 10.

Notice verse 7.

Very clear and certainly should be understandable. This fire is the same lake of fire we read about in the Book of Revelation, when the LORD God – especially our ultimate Judge – the living Jesus Christ – judges for a certain length of time (just as They are judging us now brethren – at the end of our lifetime, let us pray, and I’ll mention it once again, let us pray that we can be able to say just what the Apostle Paul said at the end of his lifetime, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Those who were resurrected and who refuse to repent and change – who refuse to obey the LORD God will ultimately be thrown into the lake of fire – consumed and perish.

Now, I’d like to explain a little here that a great many get confused when they read the Book of Revelation – thinking that the flow of events that happen are IN ORDER as they are written in the chapters. IT IS NOT! The Book of Revelation is not in chronological order! The events recorded didn’t happen exactly in the same order in which he recorded them – because there are flashbacks. And there are flash-forwards!

So, the incorrigibly wicked – those of the ilk of say, the terrorist group Hamas, or ISIS – those who deliberately persist in rebellion against the LORD God when they know better – will have no part in the glorious kingdom of God! They will simply perish in the lake of fire.

Notice the Book of Malachi chapter 4.

This is speaking of the Day of the LORD!

Verses 1 – 3.

Now, turning in our Bibles to the Book of Psalms, chapter 37 –

Notice verse 20.

So, even here – King David knew of the true fate of the incorrigibly wicked!

Now, the great majority in this world continue to believe and teach that this hellfire – this lake of fire – is EVERLASTING. Is it everlasting?

Turning back in the New Testament, to the Book of Matthew, our dearly beloved Apostle Matthew recorded our Lord Jesus using the expression “everlasting fire.” Notice chapter 18 –

Verse 8.

Also chapter 25 of the Book of Matthew –

Verse 41.

What did our Lord Jesus mean – “everlasting fire”!?

As we are aware, the New Testament was written in the Koine Greek. The word used for everlasting is the Greek word aiónios. And this word comes from the Greek aión or EE-ON – which means an AGE. The word aión is translated as AGES in Ephesians chapter 2 verse 7. Along with Colossians chapter 1 verse 26.

So, this aiónios fire that our Lord Jesus Christ is speaking of refers to the age-ending fire that will occur at the end of His Millennial age. Indeed, a thousand years is often considered an “age.”

This is why our Lord GOD calls it aiónios or age-ending fire! The word being used – everlasting – is a misleading word – since the lake of fire will not burn FOREVER and EVER – as the Book of Revelation chapter 20, verse 10 improperly translates. It should read, “eternal ages.”

Turning to the Book of Jude – notice that our Lord Jesus was not at all speaking about an everlasting fire – in the sense that the majority of people have been taught.

The Book of Jude – and its verse 7.

There’s that word, eternal.” As in “eternal ages.”

And the Apostle Jude wrote – inspired by the glorious Spirit of God – that the utter destruction of those cities on the plain was destroyed as an EXAMPLE for all of us. Their ultimate fate depicts the ultimate fate of all the incorrigibly wicked at the end of our Lord Jesus’ Millennial age. The cities of the plains – Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of “eternal fire.”

Let’s briefly read just what happened to those wicked cities in the Book of Genesis.

Genesis chapter 19 –

Verses 24-28.

This terrible destruction is a TYPE of age-end lake of fire that will consume and cause to perish the incorrigibly wicked.

Also, a great majority of our peoples misunderstand another Scripture.

Let’s briefly turn to the Book of Mark chapter 9.

Let’s read verse 43.

Into the fire that shall never be quenched.

Does this mean a fire that never burns out!? As so many suppose?

There are places right here on Earth that appear to be eternally burning – like the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan – it’s been burning since 1971. Then there’s the Yanar Dag or Fire Mountain in Azerbaijan. Or Burning Mountain in Australia – which they claim has been smoldering for some 6,000 years. But, eventually, they will burn themselves out! But will they be quenched? No. They are left unquenched.

Even so, this Gehenna fire will not be quenched or put out. Nevertheless, given enough time – just like these seemingly eternally burning fires mentioned around the world – it will burn itself out! Doing some research for this sermon, I asked the question, “does all things that are set on fire eventually burn out?” And good ol' COPILOT chimed in – wildfires, climate change, prescribed burns, something about a fire triangle – fuel, oxygen, heat. I thought it was a simple question – “does all things that are set on fire eventually burn out?” I guess it’s not a simple question.

Think about this – even stars in the universe eventually burn out!!

So, in conclusion here – the fate of the incorrigibly wicked, in God’s living word, is death. The second death in the lake of fire.

Notice as our last Scripture – the Book of Ezekiel chapter 18 –

Verse 4.

Verse 20.

They will simply cease to exist. They will have no more thoughts, feelings, or emotions. They will simply be dust and ashes under the feet of the righteous. Now, brethren and friends – that’s a truly merciful Creator God!

Thank you for listening and being here with us on this beautiful day! Until next time, this is Leonard Johnson for the Church of Jesus Christ Online Ministries – Goodbye for now.

And… God Speed.


1) Murphy, C., Most Americans believe in heaven … and hell, Pew Research Center, Nov. 10, 2015.
2) Holman Reference, 2015 by B&H Publishing Group pg. 733.
3) Wycliffe Bible Dictionary, Hendrickson Publishers, Nov. 1999, pp. 778-779.

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