“What’s hell like?” my oldest child asked me, pretty much destroying every cheery thought I’d been having as I drove the road to home.
Kids are full of questions. I answered as simply as I could, which [fortunately] is a habit for me. “It’s a bad place. It’s full of flames, because it’s a place of punishment; a place of darkness, because poeple are eternally separated from God there, and God is light; and it’s a place of sinners, so it would be bad all by itself. All the people who refuse God’s gift of salvation and won’t repent and let God change their ways – all the murderers and thieves and liars and bullies and rapists and all the rest – when, they die, they go to hell for their sins.”
“So it’s like prison?”
I nodded, thinking it was more like prison with no possibility of parole. “Does that sound like the kind of place you’d want to be in?”
He shook his head, then asked a new question. “Are they zombies?”
I smiled. the kid had a point: they do walk around in hell after they die. I can see his confusion. “No, no zombies. Just darkness, flames and sinners.”
“Are they cavemen?”
I laughed. “No, they don’t make the fires. There’s fire all around them, like a burning building.”
“Maybe we can get on the computer and see pictures of hell?” he suggested.
I shuddered, remembering paintings with scenes of devils with pitchforks, anked people being tortured and gaping demon frogmouths stuffed with human limbs. “Yeah… Those pictures aren’t really accurate. People have painted some stuff into them that isn’t exactly right.”
He frowned, disappointed, then brightened. “Maybe we can find a good Bible and look for pictures there?”
Smart kid. Yes, the Bible should always be our soucebook for good information. I told him I’d see what we could do. The subject changed, as it’s wont to do, to his favorite video game.
CS Lewis once said something to the effect that if he could get rid of any doctrine of Christianity, it would be the idea of hell.
Nobody likes the idea of hell and God takes no pleasure in sending people there [the Bible makes that clear in a couple passages; that’s not just my opinion]. Any picture you might have in your head of God grinning sadistically as He tosses people into the fiery pit of hell to be tortured by demonic hosts for eternity… that’s a medeival embellishment; that’s not the Bible.
But even without erroneous notions of vengeful deities and devils with pitchforks, hell is just plain awful.
Our sense of justice [the law written on our hearts] tells us intuitively that Hitler should not get off Scot free for the Holocaust; likewise, we know that sin mst be punished. But hell? An eternity of hell? Is that really fair? Is that justice?
Several good answers have been suggested to this question. In The Great Divorce, CS Lewis tells the tale of sinners who get to visit heaven and they find they are not at all happy there because of their unrepentant nature. He may have been inspired by the last few chapters of Revelations, where the Bible prophesies that after a thousand years of perfect rule and prosperity under Christ Himself [the Millenium], the Devil is released from his chains and manages to get some of us sorry humans to attaempt one last rebellion against God. Crazy, right? Yet would a man who’s heart was still at emnity with God be happy in Heaven? Or would he chafe at the rules and bring sin into Heaven, making as much a hell as Earth? In other words, could Heaven even be Heaven if unrepentant sinners were allowed through its gates? The answer is, of course: no.
Another good response is that an eternity in hell is simply the natural consequence of the choice of rejecting a Creator who is Light, Life, Joy, and Truth; to reject such a being is to embrace its opposite: Darkness, Death, Torment and Error.
But why eternally? Why not just snuff us out? Some have suggested that because we’re made in the image of God that our souls are eternal by nature and cannot be snuffed out. This is certainly possible. I’ve heard several more good responses to this dilemma, but in light of Good Friday, let me suggest something else:
The penalty for a crime, the cost that must be paid, gives us an indication of the weight of our sin. With that in mind, we note that no human effort could ever have paid even our individual sin debts. When Adam sinned, we inherited his spiritual genetics, as it were. We sin because we’re sinners, not the other way round. We cannot help it. If it were possible to live a perfect life before God, he would have said, “Try harder!”
But instead… God sent His only begotten perfect Son to die a cruel and torturous death on the a Roman cross for our sin [Watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or read the Gospels if you need a picture of how awful this was]. For your sin. It took the death of the Christ the Creator to pay the sin-debt of His most beloved creation. That is the weight of your sin. That was the cost that was paid. For those who believe on Him and repent of their sins.
And if you reject God’s offer to freely ransom you and change your heart, you must that awful sin-debt yourself.
But thank God that Jesus willingly died to pay your sin-debt and then rose again to give you the promise of eternal life. If you confess the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God truly raised him from the dead, you will be saved. He wants to change your life and your eternal destiny today.
The only thing standing in the way is: you.
18 Comments Add yours
Thank you for a great Word! Happy Resurrection day to you and yours.
Why do you spread lies especially to your children??? Do you imagine, like you do about your imagined god, that it will make them better informed about reality humans??? If any god was anything but a whore used by religious con men to get cash to live off of for life from the weak minded illiterate humans that fall for this crap, then it would be up in our faces 24/7 trying top prove it is real and not just an imagined object used to collect tithes for con men!!! You’ve got to have faith is only a con mans spiel, nothing a trusting individual would say after telling you lives reality or truths!!! Science tells us gravity is real even though we can not see it, but they never say you’ve got to have faith to believe in it, because if you ignore gravity it will eventually jump up and bite you, but if you ignore a imagined god it will just let you die rather than trying to prove it is not just a man made up belief!!!
While the Bible does not teach blind faith, as you’ve falsely insisted, I’d like to ask you the following:
How much faith does it take to believe that everything came from nothing [or unobservable comic book multiverses], that life came from nonlife and that a frog can become a prince after all if we only give it millions of years?
You’re stupid to tell your son such a nonsense. The bible is a book, which is written by humans. Hell is a construct that was invented to frighten the people, because they are thus easier to suppress. I don´t believe in moral, good and evil or to a life after death. These are all artificial concept, created by mankind itself. And the Genesis is disproved rubbish. Read
Read a real scientific textbook, before you attack such a well-verified theory.
if God would really exist, then I would prefer to go into hell, than sitting in the heaven with such fools like you.
Then you will get your wish, though I suspect you will wish otherwise upon its fulfillment
Did you just say there was no good and evil or morality and then judge me to be evil and wrong?
If you do not believe in ‘moral, good or evil, why do you call him stupid? That is a moral judgement, and you don’t believe in morals.
Wonderful word, Tony, thank you! Yes, I cringed when this came up when I was raising my children too. Children are wonderfully creative in their questioning the things around them, and its our job to steer them in the right direction. Even some Christian movies I have seen in the past seem to have trouble with the fact that fallen angels “devils, demons, and such” will not be doing the punishing, but GETTING punished along with every other fallen and unrepentant person, because they refused His great gift of love and sacrifice so they could have ‘the world’ and whatever else they wanted. Teaching children the truth of this can be daunting, but time well spent!
A truly hellish, archaic notion is to be convinced that a human sacrifice over two thousand years ago gave rise to people like yourself who smugly delight in the endless torture of billions and billions of human beings who were and are not convinced by the spurious nature of your gruesome theology. Teaching an innocent child the debased false doctrines you espouse is a destructive evil of great magnitude, for the hell you believe in is but a figment of your very own sadistic imagination and not the child’s.
If you’re wrong, it would be evil not to teach a child about hell.
Since you condemn me on moral grounds, what is your standard for right and wrong?
No true Christian ‘smugly delights’ in the endless torture of anyone for any length of time…
As I noted in the article, I agree with Lewis that if it were possible to get rid of one single doctrine hell would be it. Of course, I can’t make it any less true by wishing it were false. ;]
My comment was for Beulah, but I imagine everyone would want to get rid of that particular doctrine so no one would go. And yep, I agree wholeheartedly that we cannot make it any less true wishing it was not. I don’t really know ANY Christians that DO want it in our doctrine, come to think of it…I don’t doubt that even God did not want it (I could be wrong), but put it there because He needed to.
“if God would really exist, then I would prefer to go into hell, than sitting in the heaven with such fools like you.”
Wow Florian you’re really a drama queen. Do you really believe the scientific books your reading are telling you the truth? “The bible is a book, which is written by humans” does this sound familiar?
Truthfully, God Himself has never sent any one of us to hell.
It was made for Lucifer and his angels who rebelled with him. But since man went in the way spiritually with Lucifer the mouth of hell had to be enlarged. I believe Romans 6:16 says it all in regards to this. I urge everyone to turn to your Bibles and ask for Gods wisdom, Knowledge and understanding and read this scripture.
We send ourselves to hell. And by obedience to God we send ourselves to Heaven. Jesus did His part for us. The ball is now in our court so to speak.