Sometimes people today argue that hell is just on this earth, or we are in hell right now. However, the Bible does not teach that we are in hell right now or that everyone on earth is suffering in hell. Instead, it teaches that hell is a present and future location for all who do not believe in Jesus. God only sends people to hell who justly deserve His wrath for eternity. To be delivered from this wrath, we must believe in Jesus (John 3:36). Hell is not merely the grave, our present suffering on this earth, or anything like that. It is a literal place where the unbelievers suffer forever.
The following are just a few reasons why the Bible identifies hell as a separate place of existence away from this earth:
1. People will be in hell for eternity (Mt. 18:8-9; 25:46; Heb. 6:2; Jude 6-7; Rev. 19:1-3; 20:10), but they are not on this earth for eternity (James 4:14).
2. Everyone is tormented in hell (Mt. 8:12; 13:49-50; 24:51; 25:30; Lk. 13:24-30; 2 Pet. 2:4, 17), but everyone on earth is not in conscious torment right now (James 5:5).
3. Hell is absent from the presence of God (Mt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9), but earth still has the presence of God through the Holy Spirit who convicts the world of sin (John 16:7-8) and dwells in believers who live on the earth (Eph. 1:13; 4:30).
4. Hell is like a furnace of fire (Mt. 3:12; 5:22-25; 5:29-30; 7:19), but the earth has many cold places on it.