IF GOD IS EVERYWHERE, IS HE SUFFERING IN HELL? HOW CAN PEOPLE IN HELL BE SEPARATED FROM HIM IF HE IS OMNIPRESENT?
by Shawn Brasseaux
These resemble the conundrums Bible skeptics like the throw out to make Christians stumble. With the believer in Christ dazed, he grows silent, and the scoffer slyly relieves himself of a further confrontation with the truth. Yet, the scoffer will not escape the Divine wrath he himself will face in Hell if he dies in his sins! God is absolutely everywhere; to wit, He is omnipresent. So, then, what of His relationship to those in Hell?
Let us turn to Psalm 139 for the answer. We see God’s omniscience (“all-knowledgeable”): “ O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.  Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.  Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.  For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.  Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”
Then, we note His omnipresence (“all-present”): “ Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.  If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.  Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”
Next, we see His omnipotence (“all-powerful”): “ For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.  How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”
Finally, in verses 19-24, King David closes the chapter by responding to the foregoing affirmations: “ Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.  For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.  Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?  I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.  Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Nothing is hidden from the Creator God’s view (verses 7-12). Even acts committed in pitch darkness are as visible to Him as deeds done in broad daylight! Strange as it sounds, His Word, the Holy Bible, “sees” all things as well. That stunning revelation is discovered in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his [the Bible’s!!] sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
God is God, so He is everywhere. Yet, since He is God He can also hide Himself from any particular being if He so chooses. He can be present but not reveal Himself to that individual: the knowledge of His presence can be removed as well. That is to say, He is able to withdraw intimate communion, remove awareness of presence, and still be literally there. A crude example that may aid our understanding here is to consider someone nearby who is daydreaming. Physically, he or she is next to us but his or her attention is elsewhere. Despite close proximity, personal interaction with the person is impossible. He or she is unavailable on a heart-to-heart, spirit-to-spirit basis. The same is true of someone sitting right next to us who refuses to pay attention to what we have to say.
In the case of sin, a man’s spirit is dead—separated from God’s Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-3). There is no fellowship because of the barrier of sin. Regeneration, or the Holy Spirit giving life to that dead human spirit, is the answer (Titus 3:4-7). The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the means whereby He gives life to the believing sinner (see Ephesians 2:4-9). The death of Christ becomes the sinner’s death to sin’s penalty and power, the burial of Christ is the putting away of the sinner’s old identity in Adam, and the resurrection of Christ becomes the sinner’s new life (see Romans chapter 6). This is how a lost person becomes a saint, moving from Adam to Christ—positionally and practically!
Until trusting the Gospel, lost people live in God’s creation, function in His sight, and yet cannot have a personal relationship with Him. They must exercise faith in Christ to gain union with Him. It does not matter how many church memberships, tithes, and prayers are on their account, they are still sinners, fallen short of His glory and righteousness. If they want eternal life and forgiveness of sins, if they want to be saints, they will have to rely on what Jesus Christ did at Calvary to pay for their sins. Nothing they do will ever replace or supplement His finished crosswork!
As long as there is breath in the lost person’s physical body, he or she can trust Christ and have intimate communion with Father God. That person can pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. His or her eternal destiny is not yet fixed. Once the soul leaves the physical body at death, however, the separation of a sinner from God is permanent. It can never be reversed, as temporariness has been traded for eternality. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The finality of Hell makes it all the more horrific. Hell transitions into the Lake of Fire, the place where lost human souls and evil angels (including Satan) wind up in Revelation chapter 20, especially verses 11-15. The Lake of Fire is the final destination of all creatures doomed to suffer the eternal wrath of a holy, righteous God. They are never released. They can never enjoy God’s love or presence. Why this harsh penalty? That is where they chose to go when they previously rejected His love and presence!!! It is not His fault they were foolish! They should have come to Him when He graciously offered them a friendship! More than enough time was given them on Earth to react positively to His Word.
Yes, God is everywhere, including Hell, but He surely cannot suffer His own wrath. That is most silly. Furthermore, the souls in Hell are unable to enjoy His presence there. He sees their souls and hears their cries but will do nothing to rescue them. They have decided to reject His Son Jesus Christ forever. No, they are certainly not reformed—only growing more antagonistic toward Him because they have been fully given over to their preference (sin). They are not sorry they have sinned; they just regret to be suffering punishment for it. The God of the Bible values free will, and knows they have no use for Heaven. He cannot use them for His glory either. All they care about is self. They spurned His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and trampled under foot His self-sacrifice on Calvary offered to pay for their sins. How can we expect Him to overlook such folly?