It seems fitting in with my last post and current events that I should write a post about hell. Apparently, a majority of Americans believe that Osama bin Ladin is in hell (despite not believing in God, Jesus, heaven or a definitive way to get to heaven). I reserve judgement for God refuse to make definitive statements about a person being in hell. But I thought it would be interesting to bring up the subject of hell, by listing what little knowledge I have on the matter.
1) There are no friends in hell. Hell is eternal separation from God. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), an absence of God means an absence of love. Thus, there are no friends in hell. I’ve heard people say such things like, “Hell is going to be one big party.” The last time I checked, parties involve friends.
2) Hell is eternal. Jesus made several statements about hell, while He walked on the earth. In fact, he talked more about hell than heaven, or many other things. Many of the times that He mentions hell, he puts it together with eternal suffering. For example, Matthew 18:8, “If you hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.” Some might argue because of the hyperbole in the first part of the statement, Jesus was also using hyperbole in the last two words. Check out Matthew 25:41 and 46, Jesus clearly states the eternal nature of hell in the parable of the sheep and goats. Jude 1:7 also makes mention of the eternal nature of hell. God did not mince His words about hell, it is eternal. There is no escape, no end to the punishment.
3) Hell is unpleasant (understatement of the year). Here are some of the words I’ve found in the Bible used to describe hell: “eternal fire” (Matthew 21:41) “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46), “Fiery lake of burning sulfur…the second death” (Revelation 21:8), “fiery furnace… where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42) “…darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13), “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). When I think of things that are pleasant, these are not words that come to my mind.
4) Hell can be avoided. God laid a pretty clear plan of salvation: we have all done things that deserve punishment. Jesus took that punishment upon Himself, on the cross. All we have to do is accept these facts, believe it to be true, confess our sins and decide to follow Jesus, and we do not have to suffer the consequences of our sin.
5) I don’t want anyone to go there (neither does God). Hell was not originally designed for people. God created it for satan and his minions. When sin entered the world and man’s hearts hell became the consequence for sin. Ezekiel 18:23 offers and interesting perspective on God’s views of wickedness and death: “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . . For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” 2 Peter 3:9 also clearly states God’s desire for everyone to turn from their sins and be forgiven: “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises as some understand slowness. He is patient with you not wanting anyone to suffer, but everyone to come to repentance.”
When you begin to imagine what eternity is like, and the pain, anguish and torture that will take place for all eternity, it is really hard for anyone to really wish that upon anyone, no matter what they have done do you.
I would like to close this blog by posting this video by Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller. I may have shared it before, bit it is worth watching because I find it to be really powerful. Thanks for reading, and please do check out the video: