I would highly recommend the videos in the below link that are far more detailed and informative than anything I could write below. It is loaded with over five hours of information on heaven and hell.
When you look through the gospels you see that Jesus talks a lot about what happens when you die. What I find surprising though is that Jesus talks more about hell than he does heaven. Heaven is a topic that everyone loves talking about and dreaming about. People often forget though that hell is just as much a reality as heaven is. Both are true but people usually never want to talk or think about hell.
If death is not the end, and you don’t know what happens next- if you haven’t prepared yourself for life after death- then death is not safe. You need to, as much as possible, avoid it. Tragically this is not possible. I will die and you will die. But some of us have safety accompanied with death, whiles many others do not. The Bible prepares us for what will happen after death.
Luke 16: 19- 31
“There was a rich man who would dress in purple and fine linen, feasting lavishly every day. But a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, was left at his gate. He longed to be filled with what fell from the rich man’s table, but instead the dogs would come and lick his sores. One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. ‘Father Abraham!’ he called out, ‘Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame!’
“‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony. Besides all this, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to pass over from here to you cannot; neither can those from there cross over to us.’
“‘Father,’ he said, ‘then I beg you to send him to my father’s house— because I have five brothers—to warn them, so they won’t also come to this place of torment.’
“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said. ‘But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“But he told him, ‘If they don’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’”
I will be honest, as true as hell is, it can still be hard to talk about. In my last blog I talked about what happens the moment we breathe our last breath. I didn’t get into to many details about heaven or hell, but I knew I planned too with my next few blogs. I have been putting it off though, because it is not that enjoyable to talk about. I guess I fit into the normal box- everyone enjoys talking about heaven (next blog) but no one enjoys talking about hell.
In America we have become used to developing our belief system based off of subjective feelings. Most people believe things to be true based off of what they like. If something doesn’t feel good to believe, then we don’t believe it. Truth is true regardless of your belief. It is never to our benefit to believe in something because we like it or don’t like it.
“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” C.S. Lewis
Millions of people are on this road- and do not know it.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don’t know God and on those who don’t obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence and from His glorious strength.
Words that stick out to me in these verses are eternal destruction. Some translations say everlasting. It will never end. As a Christian, just thinking about this fact is crushing.
So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out, separate the evil people from the righteous, and throw them into the blazing furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25: 29-30
For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have more than enough. But from the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw this good-for-nothing slave into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Revelation 20: 13-15
Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
All throughout the Bible there are passages describing the suffering that will be found in hell. One of these sufferings is emotional suffering. One of the words in scripture to describe hell is Gehenna. This is a reference to a valley outside of Jerusalem where garbage would be piled and burned. So hell is a compared to a garbage dump that is burning every moment out of the day. A picture to us that is completely hopeless. Jesus describes this emotional suffering in Matthew 12, stating that there will be a weeping and gnashing of teeth. People will be crying and regretting their short time on this earth. I read Luke 16 and see this. The rich man is full of deep regret. People in hell will forever regret any opportunity they had to be saved.
There will also be physical suffering in hell. People that go to heaven will one day receive a new physical body, but that is also true of hell. Luke 16 using the imagery of fire to describe the agony that will be.
In hell there will be relational suffering as well. In Luke 16 Lazarus is shown to be at Abraham’s side, but the rich man is alone. I have read some books written my missionaries and often times they describe what experiences were like if they were capture, arrested, and tortured. They often say that being in complete isolation from the world was extremely torturous, even worse than physical suffering. Being removed from all communications for years and years was extremely painful. We have already read that hell is everlasting- it will never end. It will NEVER end.
The absolute worst part of hell is the reality that it is a place where God isn’t. Here is where it will be utterly incomprehensible to us right now. An atheist can reject God, but they still get to enjoy some of the benefits- at least temporarily. They still get to marvel at the beauty of a sunset, they still get to experience swimming in nice, warm, ocean water. We read James 1:17 that everything good in this life comes from God.
Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning.
Richard Dawkins, a strong agnostic, still gets to enjoy some of God’s goodness on this earth. I read about it this way- For Christians this world is the closest to hell that we will experience, but for non-believers, this world is the closest to heaven that they will experience.
Hell is complete absence of God.
The Bible tells us in Matthew 25 that hell is a space outside of God. It is basically a place God set aside in order to not be there.
God did not have to create hell to be some horrible place. He just created a place where He was not there. This is hell- when God is out of the equation.
Something to keep in mind is how it is presented in the Bible. When we see people talk about hell often times they talk about it as a threat. This is not how the Bible talks about it. The Bible talks about it as a warning. Parents reading this understand the difference between a threat and a warning. I can tell Aiden, “Aiden if you do that- this will happen.” If this happens to you, you are choosing it too, because I am telling you right now what will happen to you. I am not threatening Aiden, I am warning him. I am warning him out of love. I love him, so I don’t want to see a consequence happen to him.
One of the articles I was reading about hell this past week was written by a pastor named Joel Goff. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“Finally hell is necessary because love demands it. Let me explain. God loves us so much and is so eager for us to love him that he allows us the freedom not to love him back. Anyone who has loved someone and who has not had that love reciprocated knows that you can’t force love. You can desire, you can pursue, you can do everything in your power to win the heart, but the one thing you can’t do is force it because then it would not be true love. Quoting Peter Kreeft again: “Those who do not wish to love God must be allowed not to love Him. Those who do not want to be with God must be allowed to be separated from Him”. And our two texts today remind us that God sends those whose choose hell and reject God. When I stand here and try to look at this rationally and intellectually I ask myself, why would anyone choose hell over heaven? But everyday people choose to live their lives apart from God. C.S. Lewis even suggested that even if given an option they choose to stay in hell and that the door is locked from the inside, testifying to their continued rebellion against God.”
People reject God, so therefore do not have to live in His presence. They choose to live in sin, and sin is rebellion towards God.
“In the long run, the answer to those who object to the doctrine of Hell is itself a question: What are you asking God to do? To wipe out sins and at all cost give them a fresh start? He did. To forgive them? But they don’t ask for forgiveness. To leave them alone? That is what hell is. There are only two kinds of people in the end, those who say to God, “thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end ‘thy will be done.’ C.S. Lewis
Hell is not some torture chamber that He created to inflict pain on people that he doesn’t like. Hell is just a place where God is not so that people, who don’t want to spend eternity with him, don’t have to.
A Crushing Reality
* (Several of the statistics below are taken from Platt’s series which is also pulled from IMB research and studies)
When Jesus commanded the church to make disciples of all nations, he was not referring to political nations. He was more accurately referring to ethnic groups of people.
Estimates say that there are over 11,000 distinct people groups. Out of that estimates say that about 6,500 of those people groups are unreached-meaning that if you were to talk about Jesus they would more than likely respond, “Who?” These 6,500 people groups include an estimated over two billion people.
In a world of seven billion people at least two billion of them are unreached. They don’t have access to the gospel. Two billion people that have not heard of Jesus.
What truly hurts me is when people say things like, “ I don’t know why you talk so much about people who have never heard the gospel, there are people I work with that haven’t heard the gospel.” This is not true. They are not unreached. YOU work with them. They have access to the gospel. If you are unreached you don’t have access to the gospel or Christians. Unless something changes, these people will be born, live, and die without ever hearing the truth of the gospel. If they died today- they will die never hearing the good news. No one told them.
I wrote the top part of this blog all about hell. The terrifying reality of those that die without knowing the saving power of the Gospel. This is what Paul addresses in the book of Romans. Paul says you have knowledge of God. Even if you are unreached you have an inherent sinful nature that rebels against God and turns against the one true God to other gods. Romans is clear, you stand condemned before God. The unreached have knowledge of God, rejected God, and as a result they will stand before God guilty. Paul makes it clear- No one does good, we are all sinful. I am sinful, you are sinful- we all are. The whole world will be held accountable before God. No one is innocent. If we were innocent we wouldn’t need the gospel.
Most people believe that for people who never heard the gospel- there will be a way for them to get to heaven. We want there to be a way, some loophole. If that’s true the WORST thing we can do is go tell them the gospel. They were going to heaven before, now we are giving them the chance to go to hell. How ludicrous does this sound? We know that is not true. There is no other way. If there was then Jesus’s action on the cross wasn’t necessary. If there is another way it discredits everything Jesus did. If you are unreached you stand condemned before God (same as we once were) – this is the reality.
This quote by David Platt summarized my feelings on this perfectly, and way better than I could ever hope to.
If you are able to I suggest watching it over reading it. Click on “Platt Quote” below. It’s much better hearing this one 🙂
“Your life changes in this world when you realize, when you remember that you’re not going to be here very long. When you remember that we all, are standing right now on the porch of eternity. And the most healthy among us has only 70, 80, 90 years with trillions and trillions of years ahead of us. We’ve got a vapor, we got a mist, a short life here. None of us in this room are even guaranteed tomorrow- so let’s not waste today. Let’s not invest our life here in temporary trinkets. Let’s invest our lives here in eternal treasure. Let’s not spend our lives here on fleeting pleasures and foolish pursuits. Let’s spend our lives here on what’s going to matter forever. Because our death is coming. And- don’t miss it- others’ death is coming. So it’s not just about us. It’s about people around us, people you work with, people you live next to- who right now are without Christ and on a road that leads to everlasting agony apart from God. And none of them is guaranteed tomorrow either. So share the gospel with them today. Share the gospel with them today. No matter what it might mean for your reputation, no matter how radical that might seem, no matter how awkward that might feel- this is to important. Death is coming to people right around us, and to people around the world. There’s more people today being placed on funeral pillars on Bhadbhade River in Kathmandu Nepal. They died in the last 24 hours and right now their bodies are burning and their souls are burning and nobody ever even told them how they could be saved. Nobody told them how much God loved them. Nobody ever even told them that God sent His son to conquer death on their behalf. They never even heard before they died- and now they are in hell forever. So don’t shrink back into a comfortable, causal, cultural Christianity- that totally forgets about them. That totally turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to people, and to entire groups of people who have never heard the gospel. Don’t sit back in this land where the gospel is so known and just coast it out until you get to heaven. Don’t do it. Spend your life praying and giving, and going, and getting the gospel to others- so that they can go with you to heaven. Their death is coming- no matter what it cost, no matter what it means for your life, your family, or your budget, or your future- get the gospel to them- we don’t have a lot of time. Our death is coming, their death is coming, so hold fast to the gospel with radical faith- spread the gospel with radical urgency.”
Eternity is as stake. I again say let’s not waste our lives. We must give our lives getting the gospel to the unreached, as Paul says in Romans 1, we are obligated. Why? Here is a way I heard it said before- their knowledge of God is only enough to damn them to hell. How can we comprehend that and not give everything we have to help them? How can we know there are 2 billion people that have never even heard Jesus’s name, on a path that leads to eternal separation from God, and not give our lives to Christ in any way possible to get them the gospel. Right now two billion people have hell as the only option. They have enough knowledge but it is only enough to damn them. We might not have tomorrow; we need to make every minute count. The gospel has the power to save anyone. This is worth any sacrifice in our life.