Affirmations #4: Jesus or Hell

4. I believe that lots of people are going to hell forever (some who never got saved, and some who lost their salvation)

I can totally understand why people would want to theologise hell out of existance. I can imagine why in the midst of grief and uncertainty, Christians may chose to opt out of thinking about the issue of hell.

Funnily enough, we don’t seem to have the same problems about heaven. Somehow, we can cope with heaven because its ‘nice.’ Somehow we can better understand a God with a heaven than a God who lets hell exist. Goes to show how much we don’t know about God.

My grandmothers death in particular brought this issue to the forefront of my mind. Its over ten years ago now, but I will never forget the anguish of realising that she was probably heading for hell…that is unless she repented on her death bed. Its shocking, isn’t it? My granny going to hell.

I had a thousand and one opportunities to share Jesus with my granny, but at that point I was in a strage softly softly place with evangelism and Jesus…I’d believed the lie that all you had to do was be nice to people and let Jesus shine out, and so I never took the opportunity to share Jesus with my granny.

Friends, the evangelisation of the world is urgent because hell is real. The God of love and perfect justice will deal with sin and rebellion in that place. Its repent now, or pay later. I thank God that he is a God of justice.

Some people think that its not right to be thinking about hell as a motivation to get ourselves off out backsides and share our faith. Some think we should just think about God’s massive love. You know, let me just say that one of the biggest parts of Gods love is his love of justice and righteousness. His judgements are 100% right and so if hell is someones destination and its God that has done the sending, I agree with God, without a doubt.

Luke 16:19-31 (New International Version)

The Rich Man and Lazarus
19″There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22″The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity 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 fire.’

25″But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27″He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29″Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30″ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31″He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

Let that word sink in.

6 thoughts on “Affirmations #4: Jesus or Hell

  1. A few questions for you — do you believe hell is a place of eternal, conscious torment and punishment for those who do not ‘repent and believe’?- do you truly believe that those do not ‘repent and believe’ deserve hell?- if you had a child that stole an apple from you and didn’t say sorry, would you lock them in your basement for the rest of their lives, administering beatings on a daily basis? If not, why would you think a loving God would administer punishment infinitely worse than this example?- do babies go to hell if they die” If not, why not? – If babies don’t go to hell, but will if they grow up and fail to ‘repent and believe’, why would Christians oppose abortion? Seems to be a good way to get a 100% strike rate into heaven.- Suppose a 15 year old comes to your corp, hears the gospel message for the first time, yet walks out without repenting or believing, then gets hit by a bus and dies. Heaven or hell?- Suppose that 15 year old is in Pakistan, raised as a Muslim, knows little if anything about Christianity, and gets hit by that bus. Heaven or hell?- Why is there no mention in the old testament, nor in any of Paul’s writings, of hell as a place of eternal conscious punishment? Do you think it is an important enough issue that maybe it would get mentioned in there somewhere?That will do for now. I will await your response with interest.

  2. Dear ‘Jack’, – yes, as salvationists we believe in the ‘endless punishment of teh wicked’- yes- are you saying that sum of human sinfulness is no more than taking an apple as a child? sin is transgression of God’s law for which there are consequences.- In 2 Samuel 12, King David’s newborn son fell terminally ill. After seven days, the child died. In verses 22 and 23, the Bible records that David said: “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” It is clear that David’s dead infant son would never return to this Earth, but David also said that one day, he would go to be with his son. God is just, Jack. Sin is transgression of the law…I doubt that an infant would have the capacity to transgress the law.- we oppose abortion because murder is a sin…so, if we were pro-abortion, we’d be pro-murder. No, instead we chose life and let the person decide having presented the way out of sin.- the fifteen year old doesn’t go to hell for not responding to the gospel, but for breaking God’s law all his ‘responsible’ life. How does he know what the law is? It is written on his heart. I know quite a few 15 year olds who are professionals at sin. I was saved at 15 myself, I knew the difference between sin and not sinning.- the 15 year old muslim would not go to hell for not hearing the gospel, but for breaking the law presuming that he had). How does he know what the law is? God has written it on his heart.- In the Old Testament and in particular, prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those who died in faith were not permitted to go into the presence of God because atonement had not yet been provided.The word “hell” occurs 31 times in the Old Testament. All 31 of those times, the word translated “hell” is the Hebrew word “sheol.” While the English word “hell” has connotations as a place of punishment for the condemned, sheol does not have such connotations. Sheol simply refers to the abode of the dead in general, not particularly the place of the punishment for the wicked. In fact, sheol was divided into two compartments, one for the righteous dead and one for the wicked dead. And, more specifically, the Jewish concept of sheol was the “underworld,” or in other words, a place within the earth, underneath the surface world. I posted the passage where Jesus talks of sheol. Now, we have no reason to believe that Jesus’ depiction of these things is inaccurate. The presumption should be that Jesus’ words are not misleading regarding this arrangement of the place of the dead. But the story continues to develop after the atonement.1 Peter 3:18-21;4:6 tells us more.”For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached to the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water….4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”Based upon 1 Samuel 28, Luke 16, and 1 Peter 3 and 4, we can conclude that throughout the Old Testament, prior to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, both the wicked and the righteous went to a place below the surface of the earth known in general as sheol in the Old Testament Hebrew and hades in the New Testament Greek. Sheol was divided by a gulf. On one side of this gulf was a compartment known as Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom where the righteous dead such as Samuel, Abraham, and the beggar Lazarus went and experienced comfort. On the other side of this gulf was a place of imprisonment where the wicked dead and fallen angels were kept in chains and fiery torment spoken of in Jude 1 and 1 Peter 2. This place of imprisonment for the wicked was known interchangeably as Tartaros, the abyss, the pit, or the deep.So now, its Jesus (heaven) or Hell.- Paul – doesn’t use the word hell but instead refers to: the ‘wrath to come,’ ‘wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish,’ ‘death,’ ‘punishment,’ ‘destruction,’ ‘eternal destruction from the face of the Lord’ (Romans 2:5, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Romans 2:8, 6:21, Philippians 3:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Its also worth noting that Paul would have agreed with Jesus on Hell.

  3. Thank you for your comprehensive response, although it feels like your answers merely follow the official Salvationist and Fundamentalist Christian line. Do you really, personally, in your own heart and mind, believe that people deserve to be punished for eternity? You talk about 15 year olds being “professionals at sin” and you say the 15 year old Muslim has the law written on his heart. If that is the case, could you advise what you consider to be the law and how you define sin? I ask this because I believe there are many areas open to individual interpretation as to what is a transgression of the law. The question I asked regarding the child stealing an apple was not to compare that ‘crime’ with “the sum of human sinfulness”. According to your beliefs, one transgression of the law without repentance is enough to send a person to hell forever. So the example I gave is to show a human example of this concept. Of course you would not administer a lifetime of imprisonment and harsh punishment on the child in that example – to do that would be excessive and evil. Yet you believe God will allow people to go to a place of infinitely harsher punishment than that. To me that shows your version of God to be evil.

  4. Dear ‘Jack’,I don’t know if you know me personally or not, I’ve no idea, but if you did know me you’d know that I’m not someone unquestioning in my affirmations of what I hold to be firmly true, and certainly don’t just toe the party line. I am a Salvationist by firm conviction and great sincerity of heart. The apostle Paul describes sin as transgression of the law. The law he refers to is that law that he, as a Jew, would most typically have known as being expressed in the ten commandments, which was the law that God gave to the Israelites. Some Jewish scholars would say that the law refers to the Noahide law, the laws God gave to Noah for all mankind.Jews believe that mankind can be ‘saved’ by keeping this noahide law. You’ll need to google it to find a summary of it. Its very close to the ten commandments.However, we also find that Jesus affirmed every one of the ten commandements in his teaching. Note, Paul says that the law was put in place to lead us to the saviour…it was ‘put in charge’ to help us need a Savior. We can’t be saved by keeping it because we can’t keep it fully without the Holy Spirit. Paul says the law wasn’t made for the righteous, but for sinners. If you know your bible well, you’ll recognise this stuff without me sticking in chapter and verse.As to ‘what is sin’ I’m not sure we have a huge amount of liberty in deciding what sin is and what sin isn’t. In the first instance, the Holy Spirit is active in revealing to us what sin is and the scripture is fairly clear on its definition of sin.You are missing something crucial here. None of us deserve heaven, Jack. Not one of us, at all. There is nothing in us that will save us. God wants to save us because we are made in his image and he loves us. If our sinfulness wasn’t a problem, what was the cross for? Why did Jesus have to die? Could God not just forget about it all, look over it? Why did he have to provide the lamb for the sacrifice if indeed there was not sin?With regards the apple, I am saying it is very very highly unlikely that stealing an apple is the only sin one is every likely to commit. The apostle James reminds us that transgression of the law at one point means breaking the whole law. As to God being evil, well, again we’re in great adventures of missing the point. Justice is part of God’s love and mercy. God has provided every way possible for people to come to him, to repent and believe. He gives us our whole life time to respond to him.Let us remember also that God is a Soveriegn God. Now, I don’t believe that God chooses who will be saved and who won’t. God has given us free will, however, as God knows all things, he knows who will respond to him and who won’t. The whosoever will are those who will be saved, and the whosoever won’t are those who won’t be saved.What do you suggest God does with the whosoever won’t? What would be your solution to a rebellious, sinful people?

  5. No you don’t know me Andrew – in fact it would take a long flight to get to me from where you are. I’m really just a person trying to make some sense of Christianity, having been a believer for many years but now having major doubts about it all. I do sincerely thank you for taking the time to engage in conversation on things – my experience is that the majority of Salvationist bloggers are quick to state their opinion, yet when those opinions are challenged they just ignore the feedback and move onto their next post.I do not believe that the idea that ‘God is love’ can be compatible with a God who allows hell (as eternal punishment) to exist. You say “none of us deserve heaven” – that may be true, but I don’t believe anyone deserves eternal punishment. You also said that God “has provided every way possible for people to come to him” – I don’t believe that to be true for the 15 year old Muslim in Pakistan. His opportunities were very limited to know of Christ. You and I are just fortunate to be born into Western societies, where the opportunities to know about Christianity are numerous.As to what God should do with the “whosoever won’t”, why not just death? The end of consciousness, just like before we were born. That to me would at least make some sense in terms of justice being done (they don’t want to be with God, fine they don’t go to heaven), yet they are not condemned to endless suffering, which to me shows God as a merciless tyrant devoid of love. Universalism doesn’t make sense to me, as that would be forcing people into God’s presence who don’t want to be there. And of course perhaps there’s neither heaven nor hell – we live, we die, that’s it.

  6. Jack, I pray that you will find what you are searching for. However, in our search, we must be careful not to make god up as we go along just to suit our own preferences and thoughts. I agree that ‘just death’ seems like a good idea…seems like the kind of plan I’d come up with but the fact is, I’m not God. I can only just understand a bit of his wisdom and eternal mercy. One day I’ll understand in full. However, for now, I’m happy to take him at His Word. I commend that path to you.In JesusAndrew

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