Have you ever wondered what we are being saved from?
Hell is not a pleasant, happy subject, but, nonetheless, it is extremely important for those whose call it is to help save the lost. (By the way, all Christians have this call!) We are saved, by Christ, from God's wrath and an eternity in Hell! But, what is Hell? "Hell" is a name that evokes both fear and contempt. It evokes fear from those who consider it the most heinous place conceivable and where they do not want to go. It raises contempt from those who consider it a figment of someone's distorted imagination, while others will argue that it was invented as a concept to keep people with a weak mindset in line. Some will trivialize it; others will joke about it; many will take it so lightly that they never consider its authenticity, or perhaps go so far as to seek to de-claw its power.
Some pastors will never preach on it either to soften the Gospel to make it more palatable, or they just do not fully believe it themselves, asking, how can a loving God send someone to Hell? Whatever your view of Hell may be, there is no theological concept that has wreaked such terror and fear at its core. There are no Biblical precepts that cause people to cower or to wake up from their sins and see the reality of our Lord's coming more than this one. Yet, the same concept will build resentment in others, and harden their contemptuous hearts toward God. Or, it may be to some just an academic idea to postulate and then ridicule.
Perhaps, people think of these words:
Through me the way into the suffering city; through me the way to the eternal pain; through me the way that runs among the lost. Justice urged on my high artificer. My maker was divine authority, the highest wisdom, and the primal love. Before me nothing but eternal things were made, and I endure eternally. Abandon every hope, ye who enter here.
These words come from the writings of the philosopher, Dante, in his Inferno (1265-1321). Dante describes all of the wickedness and circles of torment and suffering, and is our source for the imagery of red devils and pitchforks in a fiery furnace.
Perhaps, Hell is just a swear word we say when we stub our toe or lose a job. Perhaps, it is just a statement we cite to describe a bad experience, such as, "this was hell for me," or, "war is hell." Hell has also been a descriptive term to explain the worst conceivable experience or situation a human may face here on earth, such as a war, a divorce, a loss, or just a bad day. But, is it real?
Is there really a Hell?
The question that comes up in academic and church circles is, is there a Hell? The bad news is, yes; there is a Hell and there will be a Judgment! But, with the bad news, there is good news, too. The good news is that those in Christ will be saved from it! What are we saved from? The answer, surprisingly, is not our evil and sin; rather it is God's wrath. Our evil provokes God, but it is His righteousness, holiness, and justice that will demand our punishment (Isa. 2:11-12; 13:6-13; Ezek. 30:2-3; Joel 1:15; 2:1-2; 31; 3:14; Amos 5:18-21; Obadiah 15; Zeph. 1:7; 1:14-2:2). Make no mistake; Hell is real, and it is coming. It is not a figment of an oppressive regime's imagination to keep people in line or a tactic to scare children at night. It is not just a swear word or a term used to trivialize or describe something bad. The Bible is clear; there is a Hell. It is a real place, a place you do not want to be. The question you need to ask yourself is, are you saved from it? If not, you have the biggest problem a person could ever face!
What is Hell?
The Bible tells us Hell is a real place of darkness and separation with an eternal torment of fire (1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 7-13; Rev. 5:13; 14:11; 19:3; 20:10). It is a total absence of the love of God and His character (Rom. 2:6-12; Heb. 12:29). The English word "Hell" is translated from the Greek words geenna and hades (Matt. 5:22; 29-30; 10:28; 11:23; 16:18; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Luke 10:15; 12:5; 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31; James 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:4; Rev. 1:18; 6:8; 20:10-15). It is an eternal place of final punishment, of torment, gnashing of teeth, captivity, and a place for fallen angels (Jude 13; Rev. 20:10). The Hebrew word Sheol has the equivalent meaning (Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 44:29, 31; Duet. 32:22; 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Sam. 22:6; 1 Kings 2:6, 9; Job 7:9; 11:8; 14:13; 17:13; 21:13; 24:19; 26:6; Psalm 9:17; 16:10; 18:5; 55:15; 86:13; 116:3; 139:8; Prov. 5:5; 7:27; 9:18; 15:11, 24; 23:14; 27:20; Isa. 5:14; 14:9, 15; 28:15, 18; 57:9; Ezek. 31:16-17; 32:21, 27; Amos 9:2; Jonah 2:2; Hab. 2:5), which refers to "the grave," meaning the unseen place for the dead and, for some, the tormenting world of the rejecters of God.
The term hell fire, in Hebrew (Gehenna), also refers to the Valley of Hinnom, the place where the heinous child sacrifices took place under Ahaz and Manasseh (2 Chron. 28; 33). Jeremiah referred to it as the Valley of Slaughter (Jer. 7:32). This was the wickedest place a Jewish mind could conceive of, and where the first century Jews burned their trash. It also refers to everlasting torment (Mark 9:43-48).
Gates of Hades (Matt. 22: 1-22) refers to the realm and power of death, and not necessarily the actual place of Hell. Hades normally refers to the place of the dead, not just Hell and torment (Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13). But, in this phrase, death itself shall not stop we who are in Christ, it does not refer to immortality in a physical sense, but that our place in eternity is secured. Death cannot silence His message or His church-great words of hope and comfort for the soon-to-be- persecuted Church!
The Bible also describes Hell as darkness (Matt. 4:16, 6:23; 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 27:45). This represents the grief and despair people will experience when they fully realize that their actions and determination to ignore the Gospel has put them in Hell, cut off from the Kingdom of God. How people will harden themselves to the Gospel and God! Furnace is also a term for Hell (Mark 9:43-48; Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:10-15) which is the final place for all those who reject God. It is the final condemnation and judgment. God does not sentence people there; they send themselves there (Ezek. 33:11; John 3:18-21; Rom. 1:18-32; 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:9-11)!
Basically, Hell is a separation from Good and Love, but it is not "fully" separated from God, since God is omnipresent; His wrath, judgment, and punishment will be there! Remember God cannot be touched by sin, so Hell also protects Him from sin! However, His perfect justice will be there, too! If we just think of it as separation, it has no teeth of terror! But then again, what is more desolate and terrifying than to be cut of from God? The Bible speaks of its terror, yet it is not cruel and unusual punishment; God is still just; He is not cruel. People there will see God, but will not be able to participate in His blessing and kindness, nor will there be any hope for them. This is for eternity-no annihilation, no escape, no repentance, and no relief. This Hell is not to be rationalized away; it is to be taken seriously and literally (Rom. 6:15-16)!
Is Hell Just a Metaphor?
Many scholars will argue that these terms are merely symbolic to create fear, but are not literal. However, the Bible is using and defining words for a place that is out of the bounds of human comprehension. Thus, using colloquial (everyday language at that time which the people knew and understood) words to which one could relate like lake of fire, eternal damnation, torment, separation, where the worm does not die, weeping and gnashing of teeth, to name a few, were descriptive words. They were symbols to convey the veracity of Hell, a place no one had ever been or seen, with words one could comprehend. In fact, the certainty of the imagery indicates it will be far more severe than mere words or imagination can ever fathom! Such imagery is necessary, as we need a kick in the pants to get us out of our comfort zones and into thinking about reality and things to come. In contrast, Heaven is far more wondrous than we could ever dream of! Whatever your view of Hell may be, it is a reality that must be faced!
How do we know about Hell?
Jesus tells us (Rev. 1:18)! In fact, most of what we know comes from His teachings. He talks more about Hell then about Heaven! Just take a look at these phrases from Jesus: Everlasting fire and punishment. Jesus is saying that Hell is an eternal punishment. The punishment of Hell is endless, as is the eternal blessedness for the Christian who is saved by grace.This is why evangelism and witnessing are so important (Job. 26:6; Matt. 10:28; 1 Cor. 15:1-4)! We need to proclaim Christ as Savior to help save people from this eternal damnation (Matt. 18:8; John 5:24)!
Where is Hell?
A famous Soviet astronaut, Alexei Leonov, on March 18, 1965 during the first spacewalk outside the Voskhod 2 spacecraft said he did not see Heaven; thus, he surmised it did not exist and that God did not exist. People who drill miles beneath the surface for oil say they have not dug into Hell yet, so it must not exist either. But, Hell is not below the surface of earth, nor is Heaven above in the clouds. The imagery used to describe Heaven and Hell utilizes earthly languages, but does not infer an actual place. The fact is, we do not know where they are. The best we can do is think of them as extra dimensions in space/time, but even this theory has its flaws as we seek human understanding for something we cannot fathom (Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 5:14; Ezek. 26:20-21; 31:16; Eph. 4:8-10).
Why must there be Hell?
God is Holy (Neh. 9:32-33; Isaiah 6:3; 2 Thess. 1:6; Rev. 4:8). He hates sin, and He cannot be contaminated or touched by it (Psalm 5:5-6; Hab. 1:13).Thus, God punishes the sinner because of his or her evil (Jer. 50:31; Ezek. 44:12; Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 10:29; Jude 7-13). Hell is not just a Christian concept; it is also rooted in Judaism. Most Jews believed in Hell; however, they were divided as to what it was, when it happened, and how long it lasted. Most believed it was for just a short duration. Jesus takes Hell away from the philosopher's debates and makes it clear that Hell and judgment are real and are coming. We must be prepared in our spiritual formation and our proclamation to others about it!
How does a person go to Hell?
Hell is a place where those who have been judged are sent because of their condemnation (Matt. 25:41-46; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). This is a part of Christ's divine authority over the Final Judgment when all those who refused to accept His grace will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 19:20). Hell is where our sins and willful rejection of God's grace can continue after our sentencing; it is by the personal choice of the person to be there. It is where those who are judged can continue their rebellion and contempt of a caring and loving God, where they choose darkness rather than His Light.
What about people who never heard of Jesus or the Gospel?
The answer is found in Romans, chapter one-what theologians call "General Revelation." It means we have no excuse. God's influence, glory, and presence are all around us, referred to as "mediated revelation". This is not pantheism, which teaches that everything is God, that creation itself is God. "G.R." means that God is all present, "omnipresent", and we have no escape from Him; His presence is revealed to us in His creation. "G.R." also means that we, as humans, are religious by nature and seek a higher purpose and order. God uses that nature to make Himself known, or, "Immediate Revelation." God plants an innate sense of who He is within each of us, even without the Word or missions (Psalm 19; Isa. 44:9-20; Acts 14:8-19; 17: 16:34; Rom. 1:18-23; 2:14-15; Col. 3:5). In contrast "Special Revelation" is the Bible. God directly inspired it and it is the ultimate source and superintendent of the original manuscripts, without any error. He used the human authors as tools, as word processors. "S.R." is His will for our faith and the practice of life and duty, law and grace, and His plan and our purpose. (Psalm 119; John 17:17; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:20-21)
How did we get to the place that God built a Hell?
This is also found in the Bible and the theological concept called "The Fall." Up until the "Fall," humanity and the all of the "Heavenly Host" drew its support and substance directly from God, in perfect relationship; and when they fell, it was all gone. Satan and the 1/3 of the Angels fell first (Isa 14:12; Eze. 29:12-19; Luke 10:18; 1Tim. 3:6), eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), then Humanity fell (Gen 3). Paul, in his epistles, reaffirms that all of human-kind is separated from God due to the act of sin by the first created humans, Adam and Eve. Thus, we are all under the curse, or "guilt" of sin, and are incapable of rejoining God in our once perfect state on our own (Gen 3; Acts 17:26; Rom. 1:18-19; 3:9; 19; 5:12-17; 21; 1 Cor. 15:22). God's judgment and wrath are now with us.
So, the question now becomes, is this fair? Yes, it is fair! Adam and Eve represent all of humanity; you and I would have made the same decisions they made! Thus, we are all to blame! We, as humans, have a perversity to go our own way, which is the wrong way, paved with undeserving pride and arrogance! On the other hand, it was not fair! Consider; was it fair for One Man (God), who was guiltless, to pay a penalty that He did not deserve? Not fair indeed (Rom. 5:15-19; 8:29-30; 9:22-26)! God gave Adam and Eve true happiness and perfection with only one rule; do not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge... (Gen 2:17). Adam and Eve had to decide who makes the rules, and determine what was good or bad. Ultimately, they sought themselves over God, to be their own god. They also decided to be swayed and misled when they already had the correct knowledge-first by Satan, then by each other (Gen 3; 2 Cor. 11:3; 14; Rev. 12:9). Thus, the selfish, self-centered mindset entered humanity, and sin was birthed.
Sin then corrupted everything-people, animals, the earth, and all of creation (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 3:9-20). As a result, we inherited the guilt and shame of being apart from our Creator, forcing us to either try to seek Him in vain attempts, or push our self-interests to the exclusion of God and His glory. God was not without mercy, for His first act was to cover Adam and Eve with garments! Then He promised a Savior!
What is the Wrath of God?
If God is love, why is He angry at us? The wrath of God is to be taken seriously, especially by those who reject Him. We need to understand God's Righteousness. He is absolutely Pure and Holy, while we are full of heinous sin, no matter how good we try to be. God is also a God of judgment; He has the right, authority, and power to judge us as His creation. And, we have no excuse because God has placed this knowledge within our consciences. Thus, when we reject God and follow our own needs and ideas, we are, in fact, inviting His wrath and judgment upon us. We cannot think or say, "Hey, I did not know," because we do know!There is no righteousness by the Law or by our works! All have sinned; all are condemned! If all we do is live for ourselves, we miss out on what life is all about, on God, and on relationships that honor God (Rom. 1:18‑3:20; 3:23; 6:23). The Wicked suppress God's truth and His character, and that is what makes them wicked!Remember, we have no excuse; God revealed Himself through His creation.
So, the answer is, sin made God angry! When Adam fell, the Spirit left him immediately, not gradually! The wrath of God is to be taken seriously, especially by those who reject Him! Sin is a reality and affects us all; we must beware not to ignore God. There will be an accounting for us all-a judgment!! Beware not to live for the creatures and the created while ignoring the Creator! We also need to beware that our rationalizations and intellectual arrogance will convince us Hell is not real and that God is not angry! Sin will lead to destruction; it is an extreme insult to God to think otherwise (1 Cor. 2:14).
Also, life is not about me and you; it is about God! This doctrine of Hell helps us realize we cannot know God unless we know ourselves, and we cannot know ourselves without first knowing God: hence, the cause is the Holy Spirit to help us know God is essential or we would never know Him (Gen. 1:27; Psalm 51: Acts 14:8-18; 17:22-31; Rom. 1:18-23)! This helps us in understanding our depravity and state in Christ. When the focus is just on ourselves, we are lost; if it is just on God, we become meaningless and worthless for Him to use. As the saying goes, "so heavenly-minded, we are of no earthly good."
Will God send someone to Hell who does not deserve it?
We have to consider our sin, as we all deserve Hell! It is by God's grace we are saved from it! God reveals Himself through creation (General Revelation), thus we have no excuse. His moral character and duty is in all human kind; it is encoded upon our heart, mind, and soul, even without knowing Scripture. All people have a natural desire to believe in religion, thus every culture of every time has had a system of beliefs. However, our sinful desire is to seek fulfillment elsewhere, including worshiping the creation over the Creator (Isa. 44:9-20; Col. 3:5).
Look at the idols in ancient cultures and compare them to what we covet and look to as idols today such as cars, clothes, money, sex, and power. Those things testify that we seek something greater than ourselves and to be a part of something bigger, that we can make a difference and have meaning outside of God. The idols that we create often turn out to be the ones we become. Thus, we corrupt the truth of God to please our desires; this is idolatry. When we reject God, we are destined to live life unfulfilled and frustrated. Because of God's revelations, every human has a conscience to know what is good or bad, but not all know God!
God clearly warns us in His Word and in our hearts with lessons such as do not give into sin, especially sexual immorality (Lev. 18:22; 21:13; Rom. 6:13; Gal. 5:19-21; 2 Tim. 3:1-7); do not exchange the truth for a lie; do not worship the creation and forsake the Creator. He also forbids slandering others and being arrogant! We have to realize that arrogance and pride are sins "on par" with homosexuality! Even though the media likes to glorify sin, such as fornication, stealing, and lying, to name a few, we need to beware that "garbage in is garbage out!" When we persist in our sins, God may give us up to our sins, so we destroy ourselves (Gal. 6:7-8)! In fact, the greatest judgment God can give and inflect upon us is to allow us to have our own way (Jer. 17:9-11)! God gave them over (Rom. 1: 24-27) refers to "Penal Blindness" by some theologians. It is God's wrath to let us stew in our own decisions and sin, and let the natural consequences play out for what we have set up for ourselves (Psalm 81:12; Isa. 6:9-11; 29:9-12; Jer. 44:25-27).
Sin is reality and it will damn you! Remember, pride is in the same sin category as homosexuality; it is also one of the seven things God detests (Job 41:34; Psalm 10:5; 18:27; 101:5; 131:1; Prov. 6:1716:18; 21:4; 30:13)! The barrier of sin becomes the ignition for continuing in sin; it is as synergy, like an out-of-control fire. Woe to those who know, yet turn their backs! The same God of judgment gave us His Son and delivers us (Rom. 8:32). So, are you living your life in response to your undeserved salvation with gratitude? Are you sharing it with others?You can see for yourself by going to Romans, chapters one and two, where there is a laundry list of sin (see study Online Bible Study 42 for more on this). If you persist in sin, you will be given up to it (Lev. 18; Amos 1-2).
Sin is serious; it is something we are not to just glance over thinking we are OK (Rom. 2:1-11; 3:10-26; 5:12-19; James 1:13-15; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin is something we need to try as hard as we can to purge from our lives. In a pure sense, you will never completely remove it; nevertheless, we are still called to try with all of our will and might. Even though Christ covers us, we are still responsible for allowing the Spirit and the disciplines of the faith to cleanse us. And, in so doing, we can be our best for His glory. Do not allow yourself or your friends and loved ones to fall into sin and trap themselves in its heinous clutches, as it distorts and destroys! As Christians who are covered by Christ's righteousness, we must be willing to let go before we can hold on. Let go of sin and hold on to our Lord! Ask Him what you need to do and He will reveal it to you; make sure you are in His Word and listening!
Fortunately for us we have victory in Christ!
God saves us from Hell and our sins!!! But, we still have to accept His gift of Grace, by faith, for it to be active and effective in us (Psalm 32:5; Matt. 7:7-8; John 1:12; 3:16; 10:27-29; 14:6; 20:31; Rom. 5:8; Gal. 5:16; Phil. 4:13; 1 John 1:9)!
Are all of the pagans lost?
Paul intelligibly states that those without the Law will yet "perish" without the Law (Rom. 2:12). So, how can a person be justly condemned if he has never heard the Gospel? Paul answers in this way: every man has a conscience, and no one has ever lived up to what he knows to be right (General Revelation). Every person knows they should do certain "moral" things, and not do certain "wrong" things. This is tested and shown to be true every time people pass judgment on the actions of others (Rom. 2:1). Yet, no one can honestly claim that he or she has lived up to what they should! Because of this, God can judge all of humanity, and find them lacking, because none has ever lived up to the light of his or her own conscience. So, is God being fair? Yes!
What gives God the right to send people to Hell?
Scripture teaches that God is absolutely "just" (Gen. 18:25; Luke 12:47-48; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom. 2:6), will reward everyone according to his or her works, and there will be degrees of punishment. Because, He is God and Creator! We can have confidence and trust in His previsions and His judgments!
Should we not preach about Hell so to save people from it?
Hell is truth that will be seen to late, we need to let people get a glimpse now (Matt. 23:33)! Remember, we have no excuse; we must teach it and preach it because it is real and it is coming. We cannot make it go away by ignoring it! So, a question will arise in mission and evangelism committees in most churches like this: "Would it be safer not to preach the Gospel to the lost in fear that if they reject the Gospel, they would be lost forever?" (This is "Hyper Calvinism") If a person could be saved without hearing the Gospel, or simply because he has not heard, then it would logically be safer not to preach the Gospel, so that no one would hear, and all would be saved! The Church, as a whole, for centuries did little to no evangelism for this reason! But, what did our Lord teach?
Even today, with the modern mission movements behind us leading the way, a lot of churches still do not participate in evangelism and missions. They reason that there is no rationale for any evangelism or missionary endeavors. Or, they rationalize there is no Hell so there is no reason to witness because we are not saving anyone from anything! The point is that Christ commands every Christian to preach the Gospel to every creature (Matt. 28:18-20), because only through one's faith in Christ can anyone receive salvation. The Bible does not teach that most people will be saved; rather, Jesus Himself said that most will be lost, and only a few saved (Matt.7:14)! Our call is to continue His mission no matter how people respond!
If we try to preach or witness gently, as in not telling people about or explaining away Hell, we do an extreme disservice! We do not make the Gospel more palatable; rather, we water it down so much, it is of no taste or value. We will be giving people an incomplete view of God and of judgment. Trust in God and put your confidence in His sovereignty. He will not condemn anyone who does not want to be condemned. At the same time, we are called to witness boldly with passion, care, and love. When we refuse to tell people about Hell, we are not loving them, we are lying to them! Yes, God desires that all be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:3; 1 John 4:8-10). However, not all will receive Him.
What will people's attitudes be like in Hell?
Notice in many of the Matthew verses, the term "gnashing of teeth" is used. This refers to rage or anguish, coupled with frustration and a desire to destroy the opponent. Literally, it means that the person who rejects God wants to destroy God, just as Satan seeks to do, but he cannot except in his deluded mind! "Gnashing" is also associated with the word "weeping," which means a despairing remorse of sorrow, regret, and extreme grief for one's decisions and mistakes. In Hell, the person who is there will be a hater of God and filled with remorse-not a pleasant picture; thus, his or her torment and suffering will be his or her own feelings and anguish while he or she can look on to Paradise and see what they could have had, but now they cannot. Remember; there will be no one in Hell who does not want to be there!
How can I believe in Hell when I have never seen it; has it been documented by others?
After all, no one has come back from Hell to say, hey, it is hot-do not go there! Hell helps us realize the ultimate reversal of fortune if we rely on our frail imperfect reasoning over God's pure perfection. God is righteous and He is revealed through His creation (Gen 3:4-5). That brings us back to this point; we have no excuse (Psalm 19:1)! Man desires and seeks the tangible, hence the making of the golden calf (Ex. 32:4); God is revealed in intangible ways. If we allow our rationalities to lead us or our theology to become liberal, we must consider that theological decay turns into moral decay as an excuse to rationalize our sin. If our view of God and Hell becomes distorted, so will our behavior. That is called trading a truth for a lie, rationalizing our behaviors by attacking our very Creator and Savior. Nor, can we have a good relationship with God and not with each other, or vice versa (Psalm 37:23; 1 Thess. 5:18)!
Will there be a second chance once we die so we can reconsider our decision?
NO! Nowhere in Scripture is it even alluded that there will be a second chance. Nor, is there any indication that those in Hell will be annihilated at some point (Rev. 10:10-15).
Will people go to Hell who do not deserve to?
No! The Bible warns us and gives us a clear picture that our refusal to deal with sin through repentance will have lasting and dire consequences, both here on earth and for eternity to come! Remember; God is just, loving, and caring. In fact, if God sent a person to Heaven who did not want to go there, that would not be justice or love, would it? The people in Hell are there because they sent themselves there. They chose it and they know they deserve it (Psalm 1:6; 9:17; 94:13; Mark 16:16; John 3:18-21; Rom. 1:18-32; 13:2; 1 Cor. 6:8-10; Gal. 5:21; 2 Thess. 2:9-12; 1 Tim. 5:12)! This points to the need to be clothed in Christ; His covering makes us secure in God's sight (Zach. 3:3-5; 2 Thess. 2:14; Rev. 3:18; 19:8).
Remember that God is just in His wrath. We cannot go to Him and say, I am a good person and do not deserve this. We all deserve death and Hell, but by God's grace, through our faith, we can be with Him, saved for eternity! We are all guilty before Him! There are no favorites with God unless you accept His free gift. No one person is better than another-by religion, race, creed, or what you have contributed to society. No works can help you excel in His acceptance; that comes only by what Christ has done! We cannot stand before God and bargain our way to Heaven because we have no righteousness on our own. When we do accept Christ, we should have the desire to please Him and to excel to benefit society and His glory. We must realize the impact of sin in all aspects of society and all aspects of our lives (Matt. 5:29-30; 18:9; Mark 9:43-48; Romans 3:9-20). Also we need to be grateful for what God did for us. You and I, as well as all of the 10+ billion people who ever lived, deserve Hell too! Period! But, it is by His grace we receive a pardon from it (Matt. 5:29-30; 13:48-50)!
But God is a God of Love; how does God's judgment show His love?
God is love, and one of the aspects of love is that it protects (1 Cor. 13:7)! God is protecting His elect-those of us in Him-from further evil. God loves us so much He respects our choice, even when it is to reject Him! We choose who we will be with for eternity. If God did not love us, He would force us to be with Him! Love is a choice! Going to Hell is also a choice!
Why is talking about Hell important?
Life is short and eternity is forever, so should we be playing games with all of our everlasting futures? We must be aware of the serious, destructive nature of sin; repentance is essential! Sin is a cancer in our soul. We must be convinced that sin is extremely destructive, to us as well as those around us, as it will spread and consume us from within! Our life on earth is not our ultimate hope or reality. This is mainly a place to learn and grow. Thus, what we do or do not do here will echo throughout eternity, and determine our place in the future with rewards or condemnation! Do not let the lust of your flesh rule your heart and rob you of your future. Rather, seek forgiveness, and safeguard your future actions!
The good news is, God is willing and able to save us from Hell. But, are we willing to accept His love and free gift? Strange as it may be, most people refuse (Ezek. 33:11; Matt. 5:29-30)! God is faithful, and He chooses to save us (elects) even though we do not earn it or deserve it. He does this, not by foreknowledge, even though He has it, but, rather, according to His purpose (Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Cor. 1:8-9; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). However, God does not force Himself upon us. His grace is offered; we have to accept it by faith alone, which is a willingness to listen, the ability to practice real authentic faith, to be willing to trust Him regardless of our circumstances, and to give Him our surrendered obedience.
We have to realize our commitment to Him may seem severe, yet the wonder, joy, and benefits far outweigh any sacrifice! We, as Christians saved by His work, are the heirs to the Kingdom. This includes the entire world-everyone who has ever lived and will ever live have and will have received the Word and the invitation, yet few will accept it. We cannot just barge into Heaven either, because we need His covering, His clothes, which are also freely given to us by our faith. We are only presentable when we have His covering, lest our sin show and alienate us from God as enemies (Matt. 22: 1-22).
I am a Christian; why do I need to learn about Hell?
What we can learn from this is to follow God's commission and not our desires and practices. We are to realize our privilege in having the Truth to study, learn, grow in, and proclaim, because it has been revealed to us. We have the "Pearl of Great Price;" let us learn it and live it! Let us display it with honor and glory regardless of the sacrifice, because our treasure is far more valuable than anything we could ever possibly give up!
If this all scares you, well it should! But, do not despair; it is faith that determines our eternal destiny, not our birthright, ideas, or works. Those who chose Hell refused Christ, and took themselves or Satan as their lead. We all have been warned; we all know better! But, let Hell's veracity help motivate you to be a light so people will see the Light! Be a witness, a carrier of the grace and person of our Lord by demonstrating His work in you!
God is faithful and He chooses to save us (elects) even though we do not earn it or deserve it. He does this, not by foreknowledge (even though He has it),but, rather, according to His purpose (Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Cor. 1:8-9; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10). On the other hand, God does not force Himself upon us. His grace is offered; we have to accept it by faith alone which requires the precepts of these parables, which include a willingness to listen, the ability to practice real authentic faith, to be willing to trust Him regardless of our circumstances, and our surrendered obedience. With these precepts we can seize the knowledge that Christ will prevail greatly with a minute for the vastness of His glory. Thus, we can have the faith and confidence in our Lord who gives us the hope to press on to the call and circumstances He gives us! We are the minute as our abilities and qualifications fall short and would be impossible for us to do anything grand; but, in Him we can!
Sometimes, God has to get our attention though adversity; sometimes, we have a willingness to listen. He has to break our pride and misplaced priorities. The key Jesus uses is that He explains to us how we are able to receive Him. Are we able and willing to understand? Sometimes, that may not happen until eternity, as it was with Job. Our key is to trust, and know that He is in control and He will be with us, carrying us through. It is not about understanding ourselves; rather, it is in understanding Him. Ask Him to show you His deep hidden treasures, and also be willing to listen and grow.
As Christians, we must realize that we, too, are unworthy. That is why grace is so special and faith is so vital in overcoming our sin and depravity. Even though we do not deserve Christ and His grace, we can boldly ask and have fellowship with Him, and have the confidence that He is there listening and working in our best interests all of the time (Matt. 5: 27-30; Rom. 8; Gal. 1:16 Phil. 4:8-9).