Hell has often been described, even by me, as “being completely separated from the presence of God.” Heaven is the joy of being in His presence; hell is the pain of being out of His presence.
I’m not sure this is true. Consider:
“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” (Psalm 139:7,8).
The problem is that the word “heaven” and “hell” can be used very loosely. “Hell” (sheol) can just mean the grave, the pit, the place of the dead and “heaven” can mean the air or the realm of angels. But they can also mean the place of torment and the place of reward.
Any time the Bible speaks of people being taken out of God’s presence it refers to a judgment on the Land of Israel. It is not referring to hell.
Hell is part of God’s creation, there can be no part of God’s creation that He is not sustaining. For hell to truly be hell it implies God’s presence—unholy things in the presence of pure holiness is pain and suffering.
“As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God. But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice” (Psalm 68:2,3).
For the believer, being in the presence of God is all joy; for the unbeliever, being in the presence of God is pure torture. God is present in hell and so are people who can’t handle it. Eternal torment is the result.
(I will gladly stand corrected if someone can show me the verses that say hell is being out of God’s presence. It will make my previous statements right!)