Recently, in a sermon over Hebrews 10:26-31 (https://towerviewkc.com/media/greater-than-apostasy) we examined, briefly, that God is present in hell.
Many of you have asked for a fuller explanation of this. The below is a brief attempt to do so.
RESOURCES FROM TVBC ON THE SUBJECT OF HELL
TRUSTED RESOURCES ON THIS TOPIC
Scripture is clear that God is all-knowing (omniscient – Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20, etc.) and is present everywhere (omnipresence – Proverbs 15:3; Jeremiah 23:24, etc.). No one can flee from God’s presence (remember Jonah?! Also, Psalm 139:7, etc.). Because God is omnipresent, He is absolutely unavoidable.
"Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?
24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. (Jer. 23:23-24 ESV)
"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” (1 Ki. 8:27 ESV)
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Ps. 139:7 ESV)
God’s presence is also understood in different ways in Scripture. For instance:
--He is present on his throne in heaven (Hebrews 12:2, 8:1; Revelation 5:1, 21:5)
--Heaven is his “dwelling place” (1 Kings 8:30; Acts 7:49).
--God is present among his people in the church (1 Corinthians 3:16).
--His face is hidden from sinners in a spiritual sense (Isaiah 1:15, 59:1-2).
--God fills the earth with his presence – and knows and sees all things (Heb. 4:13; Psalm 33:3; 2 Chron. 16:9, etc.)
--He will never leave nor forsake those who are truly saved by faith alone in Jesus alone (Heb. 13:5).
--God is present even in Sheol (the place of the dead in Hebrew -- Psalm 139:7-8).
In short, God knows all, sees all, and is everywhere, so whether one goes to heaven or hell he is there in some sense.
Don’t forget that Paul said of his desire to part this life to be with the risen Jesus:
“So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-8 ESV).
“I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Phil. 1:23 ESV).
One can say that the risen Savior was “with Paul” as an apostle and believer (Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:9-10). Overall, the Bible is clear that the presence of the Lord is referred to in different ways.
The good news: Those who have truly trusted this God alone for salvation “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17 ESV). We are going to the place that he has prepared for us (John 14:1-3).
So, what about those who reject the free offer of salvation here before dying (Heb. 9:27) and go to hell? How does this relate to God’s omnipresence?
Remember, God created hell for those who reject the free offer of salvation in his Son, Jesus Christ, for the devil and his angels, etc.:
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41 ESV).
Also, recall that the truths gleaned from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) teach us that there is a “great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us” (Luke 16:26 ESV).
What is clear:
--Just as God’s presence of blessing is eternally in heaven, so, too, God’s presence is in hell in judgment. Hell is not, as is commonly taught and said, “separation from God and his presence.” Otherwise, we have a different God than briefly shown above.
--Separation, perhaps, in blessing (2 Thess. 1:9) – but not in God's long-foretold divine judgment and righteous wrath (Rev. 14:10).
--While the wicked will be separated from God forever (Matt. 7:21-23, 25:41, etc.), because he is omnipresent, they will never escape everlasting judgment or his presence.