One of the nurses who occasionally comes by to check on my mother told me her pastor was reading a book written by R.C. Sproul. My first thought was, “Why would a Southern Baptist pastor read R.C. Sproul?” [Not that I do not respect Dr. Sproul, or appreciate his character — I do reject his preterist views and disagree with some of his teachings.] My thoughts were interrupted by her saying, “Those in hell will experience the presence of God.” “What?” “That’s what my pastor said Sunday night, that those in hell would experience the presence of God in the form of the fire. That’s what Sproul said, that the lost will know God in His fullness as the fires of hell.”
Will those in hell actually experience the presence of God?
Jesus refers to hell as a place of outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Speaking of false prophets, Peter wrote, “These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.” 2 Pet. 2:17 (NASB).
Paul told the Colossians, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:13-14 (NASB).
John wrote in his first epistle, “This is the message we have heard from Him and announced to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NASB).
Those who do not want God in their lives get exactly what they want — separation from the presence of God forever…
“For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, and dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” 2 Thess. 1:6-9 (NASB)
The Pulpit Commentary explains:
“‘From the presence (or face)of the Lord.’ denotes banishment or separation — that the wicked will be expelled from the joy and glory which will reign in the presence of Christ; they shall be banished away from the presence of the Lord. ‘And from the glory of His power;’ not a Hebraism for ‘His mighty glory’ (Jowett), but from that glory which has its origin in His power — the wicked will be banished from the manifestation of His power in the glorification of His saints. The punishment of the wicked on its negative side is stated here. As the presence of the glorified Jesus will constitute the happiness of heaven, so banishment from His presence will constitute the misery of hell, because the soul is then cut off from the source of all good and of all holiness.”
Jesus said in Matthew 25:41 that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. I believe those who reject God’s grace, shun the sacrifice of Christ, reject His free gift of salvation, will eternally experience the presence of the devil and his angels.
Concerning Jesus’ statement in Matthew 25:41, John MacArthur writes in his commentary on Matthew…
“Jesus is speaking of eternal separation from God and from His goodness, righteousness, truth joy, peace, and every other good thing. He is speaking of eternal association with the devil and his angels in the place of torment God prepared for them. He is speaking of eternal isolation, where there will be no fellowship, no consolation, and no encouragement. He is speaking of eternal duration and of eternal affliction, from which there will be no relief or respite.”