It is becoming fashionable among many preachers and Christians to deny the reality of a fiery hell, where God will eternally punish the unrepentant sinners. They deny the literal understanding of the biblical description of hell. It is foolish and perilous to deny the biblical warnings of hell, for it will deceive sinners to think that there will be no severe consequences to their sins and rejection of God.
In Revelation 20:14-15, the reality of hell is declared thus: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
First of all, herein we have a description of what follows the great white throne judgment. All the wicked dead shall be brought to life again and be judged according to their works by the Lord who sits upon the Throne. According to the previous verse, Revelation 20:13, “the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works”. The mention of “the sea” giving up its dead makes it clear that regardless of how far a body has disintegrated, it will nevertheless be resurrected for this judgment. The physical bodies of the unsaved will be joined with their souls; then they will be cast into “the lake of fire”!
The phrase “lake of fire” occurs only in Revelation and that for a total of six times (19:20; 20:10, 14 [twice], 15; 21:8). In our text, the casting of the wicked dead into the lake of fire is referred to as “the second death”. It does not denote, as some say, annihilation or complete destruction of a person. According to their teaching, the soul and body of the wicked will be completely destroyed such that they will not suffer the eternal torment in hell or the lake of fire. That teaching of annihilation is unscriptural.
The lake of fire is the place where the wicked will suffer eternally the torments of hell. It is the place in which the wicked spend eternity in torment. John the Baptizer referred to hell as “unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12; Luke 3:17). Jesus referred to hell as “everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8), and “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). He also described hell as “the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-44; cf. Mark 9:48).
This is the place where Satan, the Antichrist and the false prophet will also be cast into forever. Revelation 20:10 says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The epistle of Jude also testifies to the eternality of the hell-fire, which is reserved for the wicked. Hell’s torment is referred to by Jude as “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7).
Those who repent from their sin and trust in Christ do not have to fear the eternal hell. In Revelation 20:6, it is said concerning the believers that “on such the second death hath no power”.
Secondly, this is a divine declaration about those whom God will cast into the lake of fire, the place of eternal torment. This is certain to happen. Let not the strident voices of the unbelieving ones – that God will not cast anyone into eternal hell – ever cause us to doubt the certainty of His judgment, which is mentioned so clearly here. God will execute the judgment of the unrepentant and the unredeemed, just as He has said here.
We are told that “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” The word “whosoever” means all persons, irrespective of their ranks, worldly achievements, age or social status. It is an all-encompassing word. The only group of people who will be delivered from the lake of fire will be those whose names are “found written in the book of life”. Kings, princes, statesmen, judges, philosophers, religious men, rich men, poor men, the young, the aged, and all whose names are not found written in the book of life, will be doomed to the lake of fire for eternal punishment!
In the New Testament, “the book of life” is the sacred register of all those who are saved (cf. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 22:19). This book belongs to Christ, the Lamb who was slain for the redemption of the people whose names are written in the book from the foundation of the world (cf. Revelation 13:8; 17:8). At the last judgment, everyone not listed in the book of life is consigned to the fiery lake (Revelation 20:12, 15).
How can you know whether your names are written in the book of life? If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be an overcomer of sins and trials by His grace, you can be assured that your name is in the book of life. In Revelation 3:5, Jesus said, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” He will never blot out the names of those who have trusted upon Him for the forgiveness of their sins. The comfort of the believers is that their names are recorded in the book of life and that they shall remain secure in the possession of the Lamb who was slain for them.
But all those who are not found in the Book of Life will be doomed to an eternal punishment in the lake of fire.