Many people love to think about what heaven may be like. But very few talk about the realities of hell. In fact, Jesus spoke on hell quite often. In the New American Standard Bible, the English term “hell” appears 13 times in the New Testament. If hell is in fact a real place, and Jesus would know such a thing, then it would be loving to warn others of its existence and tell how to avoid such a place. In today’s time, there are three general viewpoints among Christians concerning hell.
1. The Universalist Viewpoint: Those who are universalists do not believe in hell. They feel that everyone will go to heaven. Some believe in hell, but view hell similar to the Roman Catholic belief in purgatory…a place where punishments are given for a limited time until the person is able to go to heaven. Even with the latter viewpoint, the belief is that everyone will eventually wind up in heaven. This viewpoint is difficult to mesh with the teachings of Scripture.
2. The Annihilational Viewpoint: Some, like the deceased famed scholar John R. W. Stott, believe in what is called “annihilation.” This view sees hell as real and a permanent place of punishment. However, the person perishes mind, body, and soul in this place and winds up being non-existent. Therefore, the adherent of this view accepts the reality of hell, but not the classic belief of the person’s duration there.
3. The Classic Christian Viewpoint: The classic Christian understanding is that hell is a real place and is in its duration. A person spends ones eternity in this place of separation. This is the viewpoint that this writer holds because Scripture seems to indicate this viewpoint (Matt. 25:41; 2 Thess. 1:9; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 3:12; Matt. 23:33; Matt. 13:42, 50; Jude 13; and Rev. 21:8). With that being said, the horrors of this place forces one to ask how God could still be called good and allow individuals to go to this awful place. Can God be moral and co-exist with an awful place of torment like hell? I offer to you three reasons why God can still be called good and allow individuals to go to a place like hell.
1. Hell is Not Designed for Humanity
Hell was not designed for human beings. When one reads the teachings of Jesus, one will learn quickly that hell was not intended for any person to experience. Jesus said, “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons” (Matthew 25:41). Did you catch that? “Prepared for the devil and his demons.” Hell is not intended for anyone to go there. So why do people go to hell? That brings us to the second point.
2. Hell is a Human Choice, Not Divine Wish
Peter brings a tremendous point regarding the wish of God. Peter writes, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). It is not the intention that people go to hell. Humans go to hell because of their rebellion against God. Groups such as AC/DC glorify hell in songs like “Highway to Hell.” They see this as a place for the ultimate party. However, this is an inaccurate view of hell. As odd as this sounds, there are some people who had rather spend their eternity in separation from God than for him/her to acknowledge their need for God. Therefore, it is rebellion that leads to separation. That separation results in an eternal separation from God…ie. hell. Lastly, would it be moral for hell not to exist?
3. Hell is a Place for Justice to be Served
Have you ever met someone who did something atrocious and they were unrepentant? As a matter of fact, if the person were allowed to do so, the person would commit the same atrocity. For instance, Charles Manson is unrepentant of the murders that he committed. If he were to be freed, he would murder again. Or, take the horrors of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints for example. Dateline NBC ran a special on the FLDS on Friday, September 13th, 2013. The church is overseen by the imprisoned Warren Jeffs who was accused of rape on two separate accounts. Young children were sexually abused and married off at the age of 12. I do not know many who would not be horrified by the actions of this cult. Could God be moral and simply overlook this behavior? Some will say, “Doesn’t God overlook the sins of those who become Christians?” No. God atones the sin and transforms the person…if it is legitimate. There are many cases of individuals who have become Christians and turned themselves in for previous crimes.
If a person is unrepentant, could God be morally just in allowing such a person to experience the bliss of heaven? Actually no. Hell is a place for justice to be served. Some will ask, “Could a person not become repentant in hell?” I don’t think it is likely. As a matter of fact, in the end, those in hell will know that their sin has condemned them. John writes, “We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:19-21, NASB). It is easier to get away with sin when it comes to those who do not know our hearts, but it is not so easy to get away with something we a Being that knows one’s heart and one’s history.
No, this is not the normal happy post that we seek to present. But, it must be understood that God has two sides to His character: love and holiness. When one of the two sides of God is diminished, one is left with an inadequate view of God. In the end, God’s love won out. However, this does not mean that God’s holiness is not present. For those who are unrepentant, the person will receive in eternity what the person has lived out on earth: an existence separated from God. Separation from God is one of the hallmarks of hell. It could be said that some people are living a hell-like existence (full of hate, pain, despair, and hopelessness) even now. For such individuals, hell will simply be the continuation of the existence they have chosen to live now. But understand, it is not God’s will for you or anyone else to go to hell. Heaven was made for you…not hell. God is not immoral in having a place of separation from Himself. One cannot necessarily blame God for one’s experience of hell when God has made a way out. The question is: are you on the highway to hell or on the pathway to heaven?
Praying that more will experience the heaven that God intended for them,
Would you like to make sure you are going to heaven? If so, read the following excerpt from the SBC.net.
How to Become A Christian
You’re not here by accident. God loves you. He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus, His Son. There is just one thing that separates you from God. That one thing is sin.
The Bible describes sin in many ways. Most simply, sin is our failure to measure up to God’s holiness and His righteous standards. We sin by things we do, choices we make, attitudes we show, and thoughts we entertain. We also sin when we fail to do right things. The Bible affirms our own experience – “there is none righteous, not even one.” No matter how good we try to be, none of us does right things all the time.
People tend to divide themselves into groups – good people and bad people. But God says that every person who has ever lived is a sinner, and that any sin separates us from God. No matter how we might classify ourselves, this includes you and me. We are all sinners.
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Many people are confused about the way to God. Some think they will be punished or rewarded according to how good they are. Some think they should make things right in their lives before they try to come to God. Others find it hard to understand how Jesus could love them when other people don’t seem to. But I have great news for you! God DOES love you! More than you can ever imagine! And there’s nothing you can do to make Him stop! Yes, our sins demand punishment – the punishment of death and separation from God. But, because of His great love, God sent His only Son Jesus to die for our sins.
“God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
For you to come to God you have to get rid of your sin problem. But, in our own strength, not one of us can do this! You can’t make yourself right with God by being a better person. Only God can rescue us from our sins. He is willing to do this not because of anything you can offer Him, but JUST BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!
“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.” Titus 3:5
It’s God’s grace that allows you to come to Him – not your efforts to “clean up your life” or work your way to Heaven. You can’t earn it. It’s a free gift.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
For you to come to God, the penalty for your sin must be paid. God’s gift to you is His son, Jesus, who paid the debt for you when He died on the Cross.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Jesus paid the price for your sin and mine by giving His life on a cross at a place called Calvary, just outside of the city walls of Jerusalem in ancient Israel. God brought Jesus back from the dead. He provided the way for you to have a personal relationship with Him through Jesus. When we realize how deeply our sin grieves the heart of God and how desperately we need a Savior, we are ready to receive God’s offer of salvation. To admit we are sinners means turning away from our sin and selfishness and turning to follow Jesus. The Bible word for this is “repentance” – to change our thinking about how grievous sin is, so our thinking is in line with God’s.
All that’s left for you to do is to accept the gift that Jesus is holding out for you right now.
“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
God says that if you believe in His son, Jesus, you can live forever with Him in glory.
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Are you ready to accept the gift of eternal life that Jesus is offering you right now? Let’s review what this commitment involves:
I acknowledge I am a sinner in need of a Savior – this is to repent or turn away from sin
I believe in my heart that God raised Jesus from the dead – this is to trust that Jesus paid the full penalty for my sins
I confess Jesus as my Lord and my God – this is to surrender control of my life to Jesus
I receive Jesus as my Savior forever – this is to accept that God has done for me and in me what He promised
If it is your sincere desire to receive Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior, then talk to God from your heart:
Here’s a Suggested Prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner and I do not deserve eternal life. But, I believe You died and rose from the grave to make me a new creation and to prepare me to dwell in your presence forever. Jesus, come into my life, take control of my life, forgive my sins and save me. I am now placing my trust in You alone for my salvation and I accept your free gift of eternal life.”
If you have trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, please let us know. We want to rejoice in what God has done in your life and help you to grow spiritually.
If you have questions or concerns you would like help with, please call or write and let us know. We’re here to help you understand the love that Jesus is offering you for free, no matter who or where you are. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 1-888-JESUS20 (1-888-537-8720), or write to us at:
Southern Baptist Convention
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203
(The previous was taken from www.sbc.net. No copyright infringements intended. All rights reserved for respected authors.)
For more information, go to www.sbc.net.
All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation, 3rd ed. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007.
http://www.sbc.net/knowjesus/theplan.asp (Accessed September 20th, 2013).
New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.