Monday, April 19, 2010

Is hell real?

Controversy over the existence of hell has plagued people for centuries.  In fact, the belief about hell is often considered to be a strong dividing line between Christian denominations and cults.  Christian denominations believe in a hell.  Cults and non-Christian denominations believe that the lost simply stop existing after death- a belief that some call "soul sleep."  Which is true?  According to a survey by The Barna Group, only 31% of adults believe that hell is an existing location.  You may not believe in hell.  The thought of hell often seems contradictory to the loving and merciful nature of God.  A truly loving God wouldn't allow His children to burn in eternal torment... right?  I'm going to do my best to answer some of the questions that you may have about hell in this article. 

Hell is real, hell is a horrible place, and yet God is still a loving God. 

Why would God create hell?
God originally created hell as a place of eternal torment for Satan and His angels (Matt 25:41, Isaiah 14:12).  He created humans to be good.  We were made in His image.  We were meant to worship Him forever.  His plan was never for us to perish in hell (2 Peter 3:9).  God set down certain commands for His children to follow, starting with Adam and Eve in the garden.  When Adam and Eve- and all of humanity- broke God's laws, that meant that we as sinners could never dwell with a perfect God.  Because of this, just as an earthly judge must place a verdict on a violator of the law and send him to prison, God will have to judge each person for the sins that they have committed... and the judgment will be the same each time.  Guilty. 

Is hell eternal?
Many people believe that hell is not eternal, that the soul simply vanishes after death or it burns into disintegration.  The Bible makes it clear that hell is an eternal punishment.  When you sin against God, your punishment lasts forever.  Your soul will always exist, be it in heaven or hell.  Matthew 25:41 says, "Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and His angels."  In verse 46, Jesus says, "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."  In this passage, Jesus is talking to those who refused to help the needy in their distress.  If you take His Word to be the truth, then that means that unbelievers who don't give assistance to the poor will burn in an eternal fire that was first reserved for Satan and his angels.  Isaiah 66:24 says, "...their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched..."  Here, the Lord is talking about the punishment on Judgment Day for those who have rebelled against Him.  The thought that a tormenting worm won't die and a continuous fire will not be quenched is frightening, but it is also proof that hell is an eternal punishment and not something that only lasts for a short time.  Daniel 12:2 says, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt."  Again, the Bible uses the term "everlasting," meaning that hell is forever.  Revelation 20:10 says, and I quote, "...They will be tormented day and night forever and ever."  When you go to hell, your soul is doomed eternally.

Why would a loving God send His own creations to a horrible place like hell?
This is a question that is difficult to answer and to understand.  First of all, when God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, He gave us the option to choose life over death... to be forgiven for our sins and redeemed with the Lord so that we could go to heaven to be with Him after we die.  When we rebel against this gift, we choose hell for ourselves.  Imagine if God sent no one to hell.  Would heaven truly be heaven with people like Hitler and Stalin and Saddam Hussein wandering around?  No.  God is a just God.  He punishes the unrepentant wicked for their actions.  Atheist B.C. Johnson is quoted as saying, "The idea of hell is morally absurd."  On the contrary, it would be morally absurd to allow the wicked to go unpunished.  

Does God send babies and little kids to hell?
Remember that God is a just judge.  He is not going to do what is unjust.  Because of this, we can assume that He takes into consideration whether or not a baby is too young to understand the gospel.  In Matthew 19:14, Jesus has the children come to Him because "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."  If the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children, then surely that means that little children go to heaven rather than hell.  Take a look at the story in 1 Samuel 3, when the Lord first reveals himself to young Samuel.  In verse 7, it is mentioned that, "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him."  This hints at the fact that Samuel had previously been too young to be able to understand what the Word was saying to him... it had not yet been revealed to him because of his youth.  In Nehemiah 8:2, Ezra reads a scroll to an assembly of "men, woman, and others who could understand."  Presumably, the ones who could not understand would be the young children and the mentally retarded, and if they were unable to understand the truth of God's Word, then they must have been exempt from the punishment until they could fully understand. 

What about the people who die without having ever heard about Jesus?  Do they go to hell?
This is a tricky subject because nobody can truly know for sure until we ask the Lord in person.  However, we can make educated guesses using the evidence that God lays before us with His Word.  Romans 1:20 says, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."  This implies that no person can be unexcused for not knowing God because proof of God is everywhere.  Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands."  All of this is evidence of a Greater Being- of God.  In other words, nobody can have an excuse for not believing in the existence of a Higher Power.  There should be no doubt in anyone's mind that there is a God. 

But what about those who know that there is a God somewhere, but they do not know Christ because nobody has ever told them?  Romans 2:14-16 talks about this issue.  "(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)  This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares."  This discusses how that Gentiles (people who aren't Jewish) don't know the law (ten commandments) given by God, but they still know what's right and wrong.  Look at the ancient cultures who lived without God.  There was still punishment for murder, lying, theft, and adultery.  You can find God's law in every civilization because it is written in our hearts, according to the Bible.  This is another reason why men are without excuse when they break God's laws.  Acts 17:27 talks about how God wants people to seek Him and reach out to Him so that they might find Him, because He isn't far from anyone.  This hints at the fact that God is available to anyone- even to those who haven't been told about Him.
The Lord knows that many people die without hearing about how Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world.  Romans 10:14-16 says, "'How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in?  And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?'... But not all the Israelites accepted the good news."  God realizes that people cannot call on Him if they haven't ever heard about Him.  He knows that they can't believe on someone whose Name has never entered their thoughts.  We must trust in the Lord and trust that He judges each person individually, based on their specific circumstances... and He takes each person's situation into account.

Where is hell?
The location of hell can only come from speculation, but it is a physical location.  It is more than a spiritual place.  The most common opinion is that hell actually exists within the center of the earth- a harrowing idea, but possibly the truth.  Look at Matthew 12:40 "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."  Assuming that Jesus went to hell after He died on the cross and was temporarily forsaken by God, this is huge evidence that hell is located in the "heart" of the earth.  Ephesians 4:9 says, "(What does 'He ascended' mean except that He also descended into the lower, earthly regions?)"  The center of the earth would be a conceivable place for a "lake of burning fire."  Scientists have estimated the earth's core to be in the range of several thousand degrees, surely a suitable place for eternal torment, don't you think?  However, we can only guess about where hell is located.
What is hell like?
Trust me when I say that you don't want to go there.  Matthew 8:12 talks about hell being an outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth- two expressions of extreme anguish, pain, and grief.  Revelation 20:10 describes a lake of burning sulfur where its recipients will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  Hell is a place where an eternal fire is not quenched and a tormenting worm never dies, according to Isaiah 66:24Revelation 20:15 says, "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."  There are many other verses that talk about lakes of fire, eternal punishment, and a place of shame and torment.  Hell is the worst place imaginable.   
Who could deserve a place like hell?
God is the Creator of everything and everyone.  He set down laws for us to follow.  Romans 3:23 says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  God had the right to set down His commands in the first place and He has the right to choose our punishment.  If we are judged by God's laws, then each one of us is guilty.  Hitler deserves to go to hell.  Jack the Ripper deserves to go to hell.  President Obama deserves to go to hell.  George Bush deserves to go to hell.  You deserve to go to hell.  I deserve to go to hell.  What is proof that God is a loving God?  The fact that He has given each person on earth a second chance and the ability to escape hell and go to heaven to be with Him forever- that is proof of a loving, merciful God.  All you have to do to receive eternal life in heaven is to repent from your sins and accept the gift that He has given you.   

I'm not trying to scare you into becoming a Christian.  I'm simply trying to warn you about the truth because I want no one to have to suffer the eternal torment of hell.  If you have not accepted Jesus Christ into your heart, then please think about what I've told you today.  According to God's Word, hell is a real place... and it's something to be concerned about.  Your salvation is a matter of eternal life or eternal punishment. 
Do you have any questions, opinions, or disagreements about today's article?  Please add your comments and inputs.  I'd love to know how you feel about this controversial topic.


  1. The most common opinion is that hell actually exists within the center of the earth- a harrowing idea, but possibly the truth.

    So the popular phrase "Hell on Earth" should be "Hell in Earth"?

  2. I'm not even going to try to point out the scores of both rational and biblical reasons why there is no Hell. Just go to my website and download my free booklet "Did Jesus Believe in Hell?" I'll give you a hint, though--he most certainly did not!

  3. Wow, why don't articles like this get more widely distributed? Emily, you've got a good head on your shoulders. I'd like to hear what Mr. Lannoye thinks on this topic, but this article is absolutely true.

  4. Why thank you, Connor! And Rick, I did read your pamphlet on whether or not hell is real and I didn't find any Biblical evidence that proves that there is no hell. The only Biblical evidence you seemed to offer was simply verses that said how much Jesus loves all of us and doesn't want us to perish, something I also made clear in my article above.

  5. Great article on C. S. Lewis' thoughts on heaven and hell:

  6. The truth about hell and about God's revelation concerning salvation in Jesus Christ does not depend upon how many believe or don't believe it. Spiritually blind, dead and hostile minds (be they ever so intellectual and brilliant) essentially will believe what they want to believe, unless God, in his grace and mercy, and by His Holy Spirit, reveals Himself to them in Jesus Christ and draws them to Christ in true repentance and faith (John 6:44, 65; John 14:6). People will find all kinds of excuses to skirt the real issue- fallen humanity's moral and spiritual depravity due to sin--and will seek to find their own salvation in "human wisdom" rather than in God (the Bible says the fear of God is the beginning of true wisdom). Thus, they will look for their salvation in science (i.e. we are just evolved animals dancing to our DNA according to Dawkins),in pluralism (i.e. many ways to God), in education (Hitler's Germany was the best educated and most cultured civilization at that time), in philosophy (i.e. read the dying testimonies of infamous atheists who were also great philosophers), even in religion (i.e. which teaches one's righteousness is earned, or based on self-effort rather than that righteousness which is based solely on Christ's death and resurrection and which God offers freely to all who will repent of sin and trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

  7. i'm only 13 and i used to be a muslim but i've changed and eccepted jusus into my like and heart but my family has not so i was wondering if i pray for my family can i still save them from hell and will my little brother go to hell even though he's only 4 and will i go to hell if i'm not baptise.

  8. Hi Mayamu,
    You have some big questions. To get full and complete answers that are easy for you to understand, I recommend that you talk to a pastor or youth pastor. I'm so happy for you that you've accepted Jesus into your heart. What a great decision! Romans 10:9 and Acts 16:31 talk about how belief in Christ brings salvation, not baptism. So I personally believe that you can remain a Christian without being baptized, although I highly recommend baptism. It's showing God and your fellow Christians that you are fully devoting your life for the Lord! Your family each needs to make their own decisions for Christ. You can definitely pray for them to ask Jesus into their hearts, but it is ultimately up to them to decide. Again, you need to talk with a minister of some sort and ask him/her these questions, so that he will be able to speak with you in person and not have to condense everything into a comment like I am. :) I'm praying for you, Mayamu! God bless.
    in Him,

  9. My question is kind of scientific ,Do you know its accepted and well known fact that this earth is going to destroy one day.i think you also believe that if you say that hell is eternal what will happen to hell? Then its not eternal hell also will be destroyed

  10. if hells in the middle of the earth then its physical and a soul is spiritual so in order to go to hell and suffer you must be alive so that means you would be reborn but only to suffer so if we start once again from birth then that means that yes there are babys in hell wow now what ive said got me thinking if we can dig a hole to the middle of the earth then we could save the eternally damned or unleash hell on earth which would lead to the apocalypse which this may be exactly how the earth ends but this is all if hell is in the center of the earth but still i wonder how does a spiritual entity end up in a physical place --- Chris H. A 14 year old Btw im taoist

  11. people don,t be in the wrong impression.that there is no hell or heaven...every one is going to face the judgement day for rel..and you give false satsisfaction to our self....considering there is no hell or heaven...

  12. The Bible does not teach the earth will be destroyed, but purged (renovated)by fire. Youmust look at all the scripturalteaching on hell. Hell will not be destroyed. Salvation is not by water baptism. The texts whic are purported to teach such, teach no such thins. Scripture does not contradict scripture and is very clear on salvation (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-10, John 1: 12-13; Romans 10:13; etc.).