Outer Darkness, the Fiery Furnace, the Lake of Fire, and Hell

by Mike Ratliff

12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. Revelation 22:12-15 (NASB) 

Spiritual blindness is a wonder to behold. Those false prophets who profess to be Christian while loving and teaching the doctrines of demons have been given over to their sin by our God. Their consciences have been seared and no matter how adamantly we tell them the truth and prove it by showing them what the Word of God teaches, they cling to their false doctrines while stopping up their ears like rebellious children. The proponents of what has come to be called “Christian Universalism” love their false doctrine, which teaches that the Lake of Fire, for instance, is not real or it is only temporary regardless of the Word of God clearly saying the opposite. 

Let us look at some passages that teach the eternal separation of what is sacred from that which is evil.

11 “But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, 12 and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14 (NASB) 

This passage is part of the parable of the wedding feast which begins in Matthew 22:1 and runs through v14. There is a man found at the feast who does not belong. The king has his servants bind the man and cast him into outer darkness. This place, outer darkness, must be dreadful because in there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Those in it were called, but they were not chosen. What does this mean? Our Lord used the term “outer darkness” several times.  “Outer darkness” describes the darkness farthest from the light. The weeping and gnashing of teeth describes inconsolable grief and continual torment.

36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.” 37 And He said, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the age; and the reapers are angels. 40 So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 13:36-43 (NASB) 

This passage is our Lord’s explanation of the parable of the tares of the field. It describes what will take place at the end of this age before the age to come. The tares in the parable represent evil people in the world. At the close of this age He will send His angels to gather these evil people together for judgment. They will then be thrown into the furnace of fire. In this furnace of fire there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth just as there was in “outer darkness.”

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 13:47-50 (NASB) 

The net in this parable is a drag net. One end is fixed on shore while the other end is carried out into the water by boat. Then at the right time, the fishermen pull the net to shore at a 90° angle from the pivot point. This will pull all sorts of fish onto shore. Some are good while others are not. This is an analogy of our Lord saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” In any case, those not chosen, the non-elect, are separated from the righteous by angels. They will cast these evil people into the furnace of fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:45-51 (NASB) 

This passage is part of our Lord’s teaching that no one knows the day or hour of His return. He is saying that those who are genuine Christians will be found doing His will when He returns, but no one else will. These are the wicked. What happens to them? They are cut in pieces and placed with the other hypocrites in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We have already seen that this place is called “outer darkness” and a fiery furnace or “furnace of fire.” All in it are in torment and they gnash their teeth in pain and sorrow because there is no end to it. Is it eternal? We know that the fiery furnace here is the lake of fire from Revelation 20:11-15.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15 (NASB) 

Who is thrown into the lake of fire? Those whose names were not found in the book of life are judged according to their works and cast into this placed prepared for Satan and His angels. This place is the second death. Is it eternal?

47 If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Mark 9:47-48 (NASB) 

The Greek word used here for “hell” was a name for the Valley of Hinnom, which was the Jerusalem garbage dump where fires constantly burned. The lake of fire is eternal. The way the statement, “the fire is not quenched” is structured in Greek is saying that the fires of judgment are eternal. We also learn here that worms, which do not die, will eat those in the lake of fire. What a dreadful place this outer darkness must be.

Soli Deo Gloria!


4 thoughts on “Outer Darkness, the Fiery Furnace, the Lake of Fire, and Hell

  1. But Mike! Charles Stanley teaches (in his book, Eterna; Security) that the “friend” who was bound and thrown into outter darkenss because he had no wedding garments was a Christian! The master called him friend! The “outer darkness” is a place in heaven that’s not quite near the throne and the wailing and gnashing of teeth are merely human regrets.

    That, my friend, is what bad theology will get ya!


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