The topic of hell can be uncomfortable to talk about. People have many questions about the reality of hell but I wanted to write about this topic because it’s mentioned in the Bible. First, I want to tell you why I am writing this piece:
1. To warn you of the eternal consequences of rejecting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.
2. My desire is not to scare you to Jesus. The Bible says we are to believe God by faith. We are never supposed to live out of fear. God doesn’t want us to live in torment. We serve God out of a relationship with Him.
3. It’s a doctrine of the bible. We need to teach it regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.
The Old and New Testaments use 18 different words and figures to describe the doctrine of hell. While I won’t mention all 18 descriptions I will share with you a few Scriptures shedding light on the subject.
The final state of the wicked is described under the figures of eternal fire (Mt. 25:41)
The pit of the abyss (Rev. 9:2,11)
Outer darkness (Mt. 8:12)
Torment (Rev. 14:10-11)
Eternal punishment (Mt. 25:46)
Wrath of God (Rom. 2:5)
Second death (Rev. 21:8)
Eternal destruction from the face of the Lord (2 Thess. 1:9)
Eternal sin (Mark 3:29)
We have no Biblical reason to say hell is just a metaphor or a symbol. This is a literal place.
There are four questions I want to answer on a Biblical basis:
1. Why is there a hell? In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said hell was a place prepared for the devil and his angels. We don’t belong there. If we go, we choose to go there.
2. Who is going there? In John 12:47-48, Jesus said that we would be condemned if we reject him. C.S. Lewis said, “Hell is God’s way of saying, ‘Have it your way.'”
3. How can I be sure of not going there? Jesus promises, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).
4. How should we respond to this doctrine?
*We should be thankful because God has provided a way of escape for us all. The reality of hell should drive us to the infinite mercy of God through His Son Jesus Christ. You can never behave your way out of hell. It’s only by the grace of God you are saved and have a desire to live a righteous life.
*We should be deeply saddened by the people around us who don’t know who are on their way to hell. Does our heart break for those people? Do we really care?
*We should have an intense desire to rescue those who are perishing. You run into people everyday who don’t have an understanding of the reality of hell.
Another question to ask is, “Do we live in view of eternity?”
“Charles G. Finney, a young lawyer, was sitting in a village law office in the state of New York. Finney had just come into the old [attorney’s] office. It was very early in the day, and he was all alone when the Lord began to deal with him.
“ ‘Finney, what are you going to do when you finish your course?’
“ ‘Put out a shingle and practice law.’
“ ‘Then what?’
“ ‘Get rich.’
“ ‘Then what?’
“ ‘Then what?’
“ ‘Then what?’
“And the words came tremblingly, ‘The judgment.’
“He ran for the woods a half mile away. All day he prayed, and vowed that he would never leave until he had made his peace with God.
“Finney came out of the woods that evening, after a long struggle, with the high purpose of living [for] the glory of God” (Knight, Master Book, 351).
My question to you is “Then what?” What will you do with this doctrine of hell?
“Unless we come to grips with the terrible doctrine of hell, we will never even begin to understand the depths of what Jesus did for us on the cross. His body was being destroyed in the worst possible way, … When He cried out that God had forsaken him, He was experiencing hell itself.…
“When Jesus was cut off from God, He went into the deepest pit and most powerful furnace, beyond all imagining. And He did it voluntarily, for us” (Larson, Contemporary Stories, 56).
Lastly, I want to show you what the Bible does not teach:
1. Annihilationism: This view eliminates the truth of eternal punishment. If heaven is forever then hell is forever.
2. Probationism: This view teaches you have a second chance after you die. Now is the day of salvation.
3. Universalism: This view teaches everyone will eventually be saved, but the problem is that not everyone wants to be saved. We have free will.
Even if you didn’t believe in eternal punishment, it’s still absence from the presence of God. That thought ought to place a reverential fear in our hearts toward God.
According to 2 Peter 3:9, God doesn’t want you to perish. All you need to do is believe in Him. God knows you aren’t perfect. God knows you better than you know yourself. Be honest with Him. He won’t turn you away.