Said Dr. Carl F. H. Henry, “In one of my last street meetings, during my college years, a heckler kept shouting, “Where did Cain get his wife?” “ When I could ignore the disturber no longer, I replied, “When I get to heaven, I ll ask him!” “ “ Suppose he isn’t in heaven?” parried the disrupter. “ I retorted, “Then you can ask him!”” Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers . Garland TX: Bible Communications.
THE QUESTION: Christianity says that God is all-loving and kind, but if that’s true, how can He send people to Hell to be tormented for all eternity? It seems God can’t be loving at all if He sends people to Hell. “ There is no doctrine I would more willingly remove from Christianity than [Hell], if it lay in my power…” - C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
“ Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Gen. 18:25)
“ And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” (Psalm 9:8)
"Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity." (Psalms 98:9)
” This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim. 2:4)
Recent surveys on belief in Hell Harris Poll, Winter 2007; Pew Forum, Spring 2008
What is the first doctrine of God that’s denied in history? “ The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” … “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!” – Genesis 2:16-17; 3:4
Unitarian Universalists – one example of denying Hell The UU’s started back in 16 th century with Socinus. The Socinian movement, first, denied the Trinity and said there was only one entity called God. The end result of this was that Jesus was stripped of His deity and he became nothing more than an elevated ideal of humanity. This is where the Unitarian part of their name comes from. Next, Socinus understanding of God’s character was that His Justice and Mercy are not connected – they are optional. Now which part do you think people don’t like? Justice! So what Socinus did was elevate mercy, dispose of the need for justice, and since Christ died for the sins of the whole world, everyone is going to be saved. In other words, no Hell… Some emerging church leaders (such as Doug Pagitt) hold to this: when you die, your spirit goes to God, and whatever was bad about you gets resolved. Everyone ends up with God.
What does the Bible teach about the reality of Hell? There is a literal Hell.
Gehenna - burning trash dump near Jerusalem; literally means “Hinnom gulch”; the infamous site of high places where children were sacrificed to Molech
Sheol – used in Old Testament; means “the unseen world”. Can mean the grave or the world of the spirits; temporary abode of the dead or wicked
Hades – used in New Testament to usually signify place for departed unsaved spirits ; temporary abode of the dead or wicked
Tartaroo – only used once, in 2 Peter 2:4 in reference to fallen angels, most likely those found in Genesis 7 and 19. It was a reference to a place/dungeon even lower than hades
Lake of Fire – all encompassing second death; final
What does the Bible teach about the reality of Hell? There is a literal Hell – Old Testament.
“ Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt .” – Daniel 12:2
“ Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched ;” – Isaiah 66:24
“ The wicked will return to Sheol , even all the nations who forget God. “ – Psalm 9:17
“ For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol ; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” – Psalm 16:10
What does the Bible teach about the reality of Hell? There is a literal Hell – From Jesus.
“ If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.” - Mark 9:43
“ But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” – Luke 12:5
“ Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. “ – Luke 19:2-23
Hell or Hades mentioned by name 15 times in the Gospels (never in John) . Other references to punishment, banishment, eternal fire, outer darkness, etc.
What does the Bible teach about the reality of Hell? There is a literal Hell – More New Testament.
“ These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” – 2 Thess. 1:9
“ For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;” – 2 Peter 2:4
“ And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15
What does the Bible teach about the reality of Hell? There are degrees of punishment in Hell.
“ Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. “Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. “And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. “Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.”(Matthew 11:21-24; see also Matthew 10:15)
What does the Bible teach about the purpose of Hell? “ Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ;” – Matt. 25:41 Originally prepared for the devil and demons, Hell now also serves as punishment for those who reject God.
What does the Bible teach about the purpose of Hell?
God’s justice demands a Hell – not all evil is punished in this life
God’s love demands a Hell – God cannot force people to love Him – He allows that separation
God’s sovereignty demands a Hell – without it there would be no final victory over evil
Human depravity demands a Hell – only punishment for sin against an eternal God is eternal punishment
Human dignity demands a Hell – freedom to choose God or not
Cross of Christ implies a Hell – why suffer for people if there is not an unthinkable punishment
Annhilationism – The complete ending of a person’s existence This is the doctrine that the unsaved will not suffer an everlasting conscious Hell. Also called conditional immortality . Unbelievers will be put out of existence after the final judgment. One of the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Annhilationism – The complete ending of a person’s existence Excerpt from : “Letters from a Skeptic – A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity” , by Dr. Greg Boyd “ Your last letter put my mind a bit more at ease about who is going to hell, but it didn’t address the problem of hell itself. This is really the more fundamental question.... Now tell me, what the hell (excuse the pun) would be the purpose of torturing someone eternally? What’s the point? Obviously there’s no “lesson” to be learned .... The character of God is on trial (emphasis mine) in my life, and this very relevant evidence which needs to be considered.” … Boyd responds with views of hell, one being Annihilationist… “ Dear Greg - Your response about hell really helped. I especially liked that “annihilationist” view you mentioned. That was a major obstacle for me..... It seems to be the only loving and just alternative. Letting someone go on... strikes me as sadistic. (Then he continues with a follow up letter to his son after becoming a believer….) Well, as I told you over the phone, I finally “took the leap.” Hallelujah! Looking back on it, it seems that things really began to change for me when you convinced me of the Bible’s inspiration and helped me make sense out of hell. I’m not sure why, but I think it was at that point that I really started to “see the light.”
The skeptic says that they can’t believe in a God that sends unwilling people to Hell … but is that the case? God desires the salvation of all:
“ Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” - Ezekiel 18:23
” This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” – 1 Tim. 2:4
“ The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. “ – 2 Peter 3:9
The skeptic says that they can’t believe in a God that sends unwilling people to Hell … but is that the case? God desires the punishment of the ungodly:
“ It shall come about that as the Lord delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you ; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.” – Deut. 28:63
“ But they [the sons of Eli] would not listen to the voice of their father, for the Lord desired to put them to death .” – 2 Samuel 2:25
“ Hence it may be said of a just judge, that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts….”
– Thomas Aquinas, Summa of the Summa
Simply consider the prayer of salvation and how that alters the eternal course of a person’s life.
Do people “want” to go to Hell? No. But do they “will” to go to Hell? Yes.
Unfortunately, people act contrary to evidence and fact all the time. They know the truth about something, yet choose to behave differently. Why is this? Because they may want one thing, yet will something entirely to the contrary. “ It is our preference that rules against Christianity, not arguments.” – Nietzsche “ The door to Hell is locked on the inside.” – C. S. Lewis "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.' All that are in Hell chose it.“ – C. S. Lewis
Objection : Why not reform instead of punish in Hell?
Answer : The time of reformation is this life. Hell is not for the unreformable and unrepentant. “ No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock [the door] is opened.” – C. S. Lewis
Objection : Isn’t eternal damnation for temporal sins overkill?
Answer : Only eternal punishment is fitting against sins committed against an eternal God. The crime must be gauged according to the worth or dignity of the person it is committed against.
Objection : Christians are just using the fear of Hell to persuade people to believe
Answer : One of the greatest revivals in America began with Jonathan Edward’s preaching Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. First level fear gives way to good fear, which is what Christians have of God (the fear to please)
Objection : Why not annihilate sinners instead of allowing them to go to eternal torment
Answer : This is one possible view. But, opponents say that men and women are created in the image of God and annihilating them would be, in essence, God annihilating Himself
Answer : Justice and mercy go hand in hand; mercy without justice is simply weakness. God does everything short of robbing them of their free will to repent and do right.
Objection : Doesn’t the Bible teach degrees of punishment? If so, why not end the punishment?
Answer : Scripture does teach degrees of punishment (Matt. 11: 22, 24), but yet there is no second chance at salvation. Annhilationism is a possible view, but the same word used for ‘eternal’ life is the one used for ‘eternal’ punishment.
Could Josh have asked Zack about Jesus? “Why didn’t you tell me about Jesus? vs. “Why didn’t you care enough to ask me about Jesus?”
What might the “degrees of punishment” play for Josh?
Our responsibility : “Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. “When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. “Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. “ (Ez. 3:17-19)
“ They [religious doctrines and ideas] are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most urgent wishes of mankind. We call belief an illusion when a wish-fulfillment is a prominent factor in its motivation, and in doing so we disregard its relation to reality, just as the illusion itself sets no store by verification”
- Sigmund Freud
Question: Do you think it’s possible that Freud and his pupils have a wish-fulfillment issue? What greater thing to hope and wish for than to not have to answer for your sin to God on the day of judgment? To hope that they won’t have to give an account to God for their actions?
“ The wheels of God’s judgment may grind slow but they grind exceedingly fine”
- A. W. Tozer
“ Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” – Galatians 6:7
“ Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” – Hebrews 9:27
“ So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. “ – Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:49-50)
Hell is real. God does not commit unwilling people to Hell, but He does will that those who, through their own free will, reject Him be eternally committed to eternal separation from Him. Those who reject Jesus in this life will have their request honored in the next.