The fate of those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is a concerning topic for many Christians. While God desires that all would come to repentance and faith in His Son (2 Peter 3:9), Scripture makes it clear that not all will. Those who reject Christ face eternal separation from God.
In this comprehensive blog post, we will examine what the Bible teaches about lost souls – those who die without trusting in Jesus. We will look at key verses and passages across both the Old and New Testaments to understand God’s perspective on this solemn subject. As we dive into Scripture, keep an open and discerning heart to hear what the Word of God says.
- All people are born with a sinful nature and in need of salvation through Jesus Christ
- Those who reject Christ face eternal separation from God after death
- Hell is a real place of judgment prepared for the devil and his angels
- The sufferings of hell are severe and eternal with no hope of relief
- God does not want anyone to perish but desires all to repent and be saved
- Christians should urgently compel others to be reconciled to God to avoid this fate
- God’s love, justice and holiness require a separation between unrepentant sinners and His holy presence
- Key Takeaways:
- All Are Born in Sin and Need Salvation in Christ
- Those Who Reject Christ Face Eternal Separation from God
- Hell is a Real Place of Judgment for the Wicked
- The Sufferings of Hell are Severe and Eternal
- God Does Not Want Anyone to Perish
- Christians Should Urgently Compel Others to be Reconciled to God
- God's Love, Justice and Holiness Require Separation from Unrepentant Sinners
All Are Born in Sin and Need Salvation in Christ
In order to understand the fate of the lost, we must first comprehend mankind’s universal need for salvation. According to Scripture, every person is born with a sinful nature inherited from Adam and stands condemned before God:
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5 NKJV)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NKJV)
This sinful nature results in rebellion against God and His ways:
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one. (Psalms 14:2-3 NKJV)
Every person’s default destiny is eternal separation from God because our holy Creator cannot allow sin in His presence:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you. (Isaiah 59:2 NKJV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NKJV)
Thankfully, God provided a way of salvation through the atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 NKJV)
If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 NKJV)
Those who repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross are forgiven, saved from condemnation, and granted eternal life with God. This salvation is a free gift received by God’s grace alone through faith alone:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
However, those who reject God’s gift of salvation through unbelief face a terrifying destiny after death.
Those Who Reject Christ Face Eternal Separation from God
The Bible gives several sobering warnings about the eternal state of those who die without accepting Christ’s offer of salvation. Jesus Himself declared that rejecting Him leads to eternal judgment:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:18-19 NKJV)
After death, those who rejected Christ will face a fearful judgment before God’s throne:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-12, 15 NKJV)
Their final destiny is the lake of fire, described as the “second death” – a dreadful place of punishment for the wicked after physical death:
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15 NKJV)
But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8 NKJV)
The lake of fire is the ultimate destination of the lost who rejected Christ. It is a place of eternal separation from God, torment, suffering and anguish with no hope of relief.
Hell is a Real Place of Judgment for the Wicked
The Bible paints a terrifying picture of hell as a real place prepared for Satan and his demons – a place of eternal fire and torment which unrepentant sinners will also inhabit.
When Jesus described the eternal state of the lost, He used the word Gehenna – a Greek term referring to the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem. This valley was associated with pagan child sacrifice and became a garbage dump where refuse was continually burned. Jesus used it as a symbol of the final destiny of the wicked:
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna).” (Matthew 10:28 NKJV)
Hell is described as a place of fire and torment:
“…the rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’” (Luke 16:22-24 NKJV)
“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels…” (Matthew 25:41 NKJV)
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 NIV)
Hell is described as a place of utter darkness, isolation and weeping:
“…cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30 NKJV)
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” (Matthew 22:13 NIV)
It is a place devoid of God’s presence and all His blessings:
“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB)
Hell is real – the ultimate consequence and payment for sin. It is not mere annihilation or unconsciousness, but conscious, eternal torment and separation from God’s mercy and grace.
The Sufferings of Hell are Severe and Eternal
The language and imagery Scripture uses to describe the sufferings of hell indicate they are both severe and endless. There will be levels of punishment in hell based on the level of sin and rejection of truth (Matthew 11:20-24). But all who are there face excruciating pain, anguish and separation from God and everything good.
Repeatedly, the Bible emphasizes the eternal duration of hell’s torments using words like “everlasting”, “eternal” and “forever” – identical terminology used to describe heaven’s joys!
“Then they will go away to eternal (aiónios) punishment, but the righteous to eternal (aiónios) life.” (Matthew 25:46 NIV)
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting (aiónios) destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NKJV)
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting (aiónios) life, some to shame and everlasting (aiónios) contempt.” (Daniel 12:2 NKJV)
“And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night…” (Revelation 14:11 NKJV)
“…whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal (aiónios) sin”— for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:29-30 NIV)
The wicked are said to suffer “day and night forever and ever” with no rest (Revelation 20:10). These passages rule out any concept of annihilation or temporary suffering followed by extinction. The lost endure ceaseless punishment without parole.
God Does Not Want Anyone to Perish
While the Bible sternly warns of hell’s severity, it also reveals God’s heart of compassion toward sinners. God earnestly desires that every person would repent, believe the Gospel and be saved from this terrible fate:
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
God loves the world and gave His Son to provide redemption from sin, death and hell (John 3:16-17). He is being patient toward sinners, giving time for repentance and extending His grace. But this time of grace will come to an end.
Paul describes God’s patience this way:
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:4-5 NIV)
Tragically, Scripture predicts many will reject God’s kindness and stubbornly cling to their sin, storing up wrath for themselves in the coming day of judgment (Romans 2:5).
Christians Should Urgently Compel Others to be Reconciled to God
Knowing the terror of the Lord and the eternal destiny awaiting the lost, Christians are compelled to urgently reach out to those who don’t know Christ. Just as God is being patient toward sinners, wanting them to repent and be saved, we too should have this heart of compassion.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20 NKJV)
Knowing what awaits those outside of Christ, we should lovingly warn our friends, family and neighbors to flee from the wrath to come by repenting and believing in Jesus:
When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. (Ezekiel 3:18-19 NIV)
Every Christian has been entrusted with the gospel message – good news that can rescue souls from eternal peril. May we faithfully and urgently share it!
God’s Love, Justice and Holiness Require Separation from Unrepentant Sinners
The Bible’s warnings about hell reflect God’s holiness, justice and righteousness. Though profoundly loving, God cannot tolerate sin or allow it into His holy presence. His perfect justice requires evil be punished.
Hell demonstrates that every sin – no matter how “small” – is an infinitely serious matter to our infinitely holy and righteous God. The punishment fits the crime. We often minimize our sin, but God understands its gravity far better than we ever could.
God does not take pleasure in the death or punishment of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). Yet in His holiness He cannot excuse or overlook sin. His justice upholds the moral order He created. To simply pardon unrepentant evil would compromise His holiness.
If God did not separate unrepentant sinners from His presence, heaven would in fact become hell. Habakkuk described God’s purity this way:
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. (Habakkuk 1:13 NIV)
God has provided redemption through Christ. But those who reject God’s provision will face the consequence of their choice. CS Lewis wrote:
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”
Hell is the final fulfillment of sinners’ preference to live apart from God and His ways. Tim Keller said:
Hell exists because God loves humans enough to respect our will to turn away from Him if we insist.
God’s perfect love and holiness require a final separation between those who repent and those who refuse.
The sobering reality of hell should break our hearts and compel us to urgently reach the lost with God’s saving message of grace. While no one has to perish, tragically many will reject God’s offer of salvation in Christ. Let us heed Scripture’s warnings and labor to rescue souls headed to eternal destruction. May the lost come to repentance and faith while God’s offer of grace remains open.