Degrees of Punishment
“But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.” (Matthew 11:22)
The subject of eternal hell is so repugnant to the modern ungodly world that people desperately search for some scientific rationale to justify their rejection of God’s Word. Charles Darwin was an example. He became an apostate from Christianity, not because of his scientific “discovery” of natural selection, but because of Christ’s teachings that unbelievers (including his own father) would end up in hell.
Nevertheless “the fearful, and unbelieving . . . and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). These are words from God Himself!
But is there no difference in the punishment of, say, blaspheming and wicked unbelievers and the mere careless unbeliever? Yes, there is. As Christ said, the idolatrous inhabitants of Tyre would have repented if they had seen His mighty works, but the Galileans of Chorazin and Bethsaida who had seen His miracles and heard Him preach had not. Consequently they will suffer more.
Similarly, He said concerning those who would reject the gospel preaching of His disciples that “it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city” (Matthew 10:15). The wicked populace of Sodom, “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh,” will suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 7), but even greater punishment awaits those who willfully reject God’s love in Christ.
There will, indeed, be degrees of punishment in hell, but they will be determined largely in proportion to degrees of “light” rejected. This is an unwanted–but urgently needed–message in these last days!
By Henry Morris (Institute of Creation Research)