heaven; hell

heaven

an extremely wonderful place, thing, or situation

hell

an extremely terrible place, thing, or situation

—For me, chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream, covered with chocolate syrup, is heaven in a bowl. On the other hand, living in a place without chocolate would be hell on earth.

In the Book of Revelation, John gives a vivid description of heaven:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist, and the sea existed no more. And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among human beings. He will live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death will not exist any more—or mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have ceased to exist.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

This, writes John, is the place of eternal reward for those who follow Jesus. But there is also a place of eternal punishment. Jesus spoke of this place when he warned the Pharisees,

You snakes, you offspring of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell [the damnation of hell]? (Matthew 23:33)

John describes hell as a lake of fire, writing that

the cowards, unbelievers, detestable persons, murderers, the sexually immoral, and those who practice magic spells, idol worshipers, and all those who lie, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur [brimstone]. That is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

“Fire and brimstone preaching” is when a preacher forcefully speaks about the torments of hell in order to convince someone to follow God. Therefore, fire and brimstone can also be any “way of speaking that uses fear of punishment or dire consequences to motivate listeners,” as in “He’ll try to use fire and brimstone to scare us away from skipping school.”

The verb damn means “to condemn,” as in condemning someone to eternal punishment in hell. Today, many people use damn and hell as exclamations to show frustration, surprise, or a wide range of other emotions. Some use darn and dang as replacements for damn, and heck as a replacement for hell.

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