Suppose, however, the penalty for sins was not death (as the Bible explicitly says), but that the punishment was to live in the agony of a fire for all eternity with no hope of relief and such a sentence of judgment is the consequence of sin. If this were so, then for Christ to have paid your penalty and mine for our sins, He would have to go to that fire and be in that condition of torment for all eternity. Though the Bible makes it clear that Christ underwent the full and complete punishment of sins for everyone who has ever lived — it is evident He did not go to a hell fire to begin a fiery torment which lasts forever.
"We thus judge, that if one [Christ] died for all, then were all dead."
• 2 Corinthians 5:14
Christ died for us; He didn’t enter an eternal fire.
"But God commends this love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
• Romans 5:8
"We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of DEATH, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste DEATH for every man."
• Hebrews 2:9
"Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh."
• 2 Peter 3:18
What beautiful and instructive scriptures these are. All our sins, and those of every person in the world, have been fully dealt with. Christ suffered for those sins once — at one time and once for all. He is not paying for them now.
"We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ... This man, after He has offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God."
• Hebrews 10:10, 12
Throughout the Bible it is made abundantly clear that the penalty for sins is death, and Christ fully met that penalty. The punishment for sins is not to be in a hell fire burning forever. If that were the sentence then Christ would have to be in such a hell fire and remain there for eternity. After all, Christ came to pay the complete retribution for the sins of mankind. But notice this truth. He was resurrected from the dead three days after His crucifixion. Instead of being in everlasting torment in a hell fire, Christ is now with the Father in glory. "Who ... when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
This example of Christ’s meeting the consequences of sin for us is proof positive that the wages of sin is not to burn in hell fire forever — else Christ would have to be in such a state now and for all time to come.
Eternal Death Not the Wages of Sin
There are some denominations which teach that the consequence of sin is not eternal life in hell fire, but it is eternal death. Such belief is equally erroneous. If eternal death were the penalty, then Christ would have had to die eternally in order to meet the exact judgment — "to pay the uttermost farthing." Yet, Christ became alive from the dead three days after His death.
Let us note again what the wages of sin really are. The sentence for all sinners is death. And that is what Christ provided for us. He underwent a substitutionary death on the cross. Once this principle of punishment is clear in our minds, then we can be prepared to enter a discussion about the "hells" of the Bible.1