Of all the topics spoken of in Christianity, Hell has got to be one of the more popular. Some believe that Hell doesn’t exist; others believe that when a person dies and goes to Hell, they burn up into ashes and cease to exist. But what the Hell is the truth? (Yeah, bad pun, I know).
Let’s first establish what Hell is. No, I don’t mean the psychological state of mind or the figurative hell we have to deal with at work or home at times, but the place spoken of as opposite of Heaven. Yeah, THAT Hell.
The Bible never actually tells us where Hell is; just that it IS. While some speculate that Hell is in the center of the earth, that is somewhat impossible, as 1) Hell is a spiritual dimension like Heaven, and 2) Hell will last forever, while earth won’t. We’ll discuss this in a moment.
So let’s just assume for the hell of it (sorry, I’ll stop) that Hell is in some “alternate dimension”. What is it?
The Bible describes Hell as a place of torment. The rich man in Luke 16 said he was “tormented in this flame”. Jesus said Hell is a place of fire in Mark 9.
Hell is also described as eternal. Yes, eternal. Not temporary, not “you can buy your way out”, but forever. Jesus said the flame “dieth not” in Mark 9. In Revelation 20, Death and Hell are “cast into the lake of fire”, which will last forever.
As far as the notion that you’ll go to Hell and burn up, that can easily be dispelled by Revelation 20:10. According to the Bible, Satan will be cast in the lake of fire “where the beast and the false prophet are”. Yep, after one thousand years, those two are still there. We won’t mention it says Hell “gave up the dead that were in [it]” three verses later. Oh shucks, I just did.
“But a loving God won’t send someone to Hell.” Really? REALLY? The problem isn’t that God sent you there; YOU sent you there, when you rejected God. God originally designed a perfect world with no sin, no death, and no pain. But because God gave man a free choice, He had to make evil in order to have good and the ability to choose either. You can’t have light without dark; good without bad. It just doesn’t work. Furthermore, God originally designed Hell after Satan fell from Heaven (Matthew 25). But when man chooses to follow his own path instead of following God, much like a parent, God says “Okay, have it your way.” As one speaker put it, “I believe Hell will be so bad for the same reason Heaven will be so good. God is present in Heaven, and not in Hell.” I’m paraphrasing a little, but it’s a reasonable statement.
So yes, Hell exists and is a nasty place to go, and while Jesus provided the only way to avoid Hell, He’s more than just your ticket out of Hell. So let’s be sure to take Jesus seriously when He says “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”