Hell (“What we Believe” that I wrote for my church)

Hell

We believe that after we are judged by Christ in the last days those who do not have faith in Him as Lord will enter into Hell as a penalty for their sins. Hell is a real place, not something we experience in this life, nor annihilation of our souls. Hell is a place of everlasting torment and separation from God. We are not sent there against our will; those who end up in Hell do so by their own choice. We believe that Hell is the just punishment meted out by God in light of our sins against Him. This provides incredible motivation for us to spread the Gospel to the entire world, and to all our unsaved friends and family.

Hell is Real and is Everlasting: In the old testament the word sheol is used for the grave, or the unseen world, where we will be until the Great White Throne Judgment. In the New Testament hades is used as the equivalent. When we think of Hell today we picture what the New Testament calls Gehenna (γέεννα) (Mt. 5:22, 5:29; 5:30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15; 23:33; Mk. 9:43, 9:45, 9:47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6). This is the lake of fire, created for the Devil and his angels, where those who have not accepted forgiveness for their sins, found in Jesus Christ, will be sent. That Hell is everlasting is taught clearly in Scripture, and implied by its very nature. Hell is where unrepentant sinners are sent, not to be corrected, but for retribution (2 Thess 1:6-9). God is eternal and because He is holy, He cannot allow sin in His presence. Those whose sins have not been pardoned by accepting Christ’s propitiating[1] sacrifice made on our behalf can never enter into the presence of God, and there are no indications in scripture that there will be a second chance to turn to God after death (2 Thess. 1:6-9 for example, as mentioned above, teaches that the purpose of Hell is punishment for sins and not a corrective measure meant to reform sinners after death).  Dan 12:2 and John 5:28-29 both talk of a resurrection for judgment; Dan 12:2 indicates that some will be resurrected for everlasting life, and others for “disgrace and everlasting contempt.” Matt 25:41 describes the “eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels” (ESV), and Matt 25:46 teaches that the condemned will go into eternal punishment.[2]

Hell is a place of torment and separation from God: The Scriptural teaching on the nature of Hell gives us a terrifying vision of torment and separation from God. Matt 8:12 describes it as “outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (NASB).[3] In Matt 13:50 it is described as “the furnace of fire”. 2 Thess 1:7-9 tells us that those who are condemned to Hell will “pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and form the glory of His power”. Matthew 5:22 calls it “the fiery hell.” In Isaiah 66:24 and Mark 9:48 tell us that in Hell the worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched.

Hell is God’s just punishment for us on account of our sins:  The Bible is clear that hell is the punishment for our sins. Whether you have heard the law or not, Romans 1-3 teaches us that all people are guilty; for God has revealed himself in nature, has printed His moral law on our hearts, and we have all transgressed it. In Romans 3:10b-12 Paul quotes Psalm 14:1-3 saying: ““THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; 11THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; 12ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”” There will be no one in Hell who has not chosen to be there. God has made His offer of salvation open to all man, but we have all chosen to pursue sin and ignore God. Romans 1:18 says: “18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” Romans 1:28 reads: “28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are not proper”. Romans 2:5-8 “5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.” And finally John 3:18-21; “18He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Those who go to Hell have chosen to be there, and it is doubtful that they would repent; even if they had a chance (some suggest Rev. 22:11, and throughout Scripture we see people experience judgment and continue in wickedness, hardening their own hearts against God).

Hell is probably the hardest doctrine in the Bible to grasp, but Scripture is clear; just as only those who choose Hell go there, nobody who chooses Heaven will be rejected: “16For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18He who believes in Him is not judged” (John 3:16-18a). And “Of Him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone how believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43).

[For a more extensive treatment of what the Bible says on Hell, read this]


[1] The usual term used is Atoning, but propitiating better conveys the sense behind the Greek noun ιλαστήριον (Hilastērion) which conveys the idea of a personal act by which the wrath of God is removed.

[2] Some argue that the Greek word for eternal, αιωνιος (aiōnios), means “ending” (as opposed to “unending”); but the parallel found in Matt 25:46 and many other passages would mean that our “eternal life” would also end. This is inconsistent with the teachings of scripture. Norman L Geisler, Systematic theology : in one volume (Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House, 2011), 1275.

[3] All Scripture references, unless otherwise stated, are from the NASB

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