And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire."
"Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from me, you
Oh c'mon! Does Hell really exist?
Let's answer that question with another question. Does Heaven really exist? Both Heaven and Hell have the same foundation God's Word. In fact, there are more statements in the Bible about Hell than there are about Heaven. So, if Hell is a fable, then so is Heaven.
Very simply, He created Hell for Satan and the demons. Jesus said in Matthew 25:41 that Hell was "prepared for the devil and His angels;" and 2 Peter 2:4 says that God cast the demons "down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness to be reserved for judgment..."
Let's go back and read Matthew 25:41 again: "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and His angels.'" Psalm 9:17 says: "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God."
Are you saying I'm wicked and deserve to be condemned?
No. I'm not saying anything one way or the other. But, here's what the Bible says about us.
How about it? Do you fit into any of the categories mentioned in that last verse? Let's take a look at some of them:
I think that's enough to make my point. Regardless of whether you think you fit into that list or not, the fact is that from God's perfectly holy, perspective and apart from being covered by Christ's righteousness you do! And so do I!
As for whether you "deserve to be condemned," here are some other verses to consider.
In other words, being 'condemned' has nothing to do with whether we're 'good' or 'bad'. Until and unless we receive Christ as Lord and Savior (trust Him and Him alone to save us), we are already condemned!
That's a pretty common argument these days and certainly not without merit. But the fact is that most people who say that do so because they don't want to believe in a God who would do that. I don't want to believe that either. How wise is it, though, to decide something so important based on a subjective emotional feeling for what we hope or want to be true?
Instead, let's look at what the Bible says on the subject. You might be surprised to find that portions of the Bible seem to support the idea of no eternal punishment. Let's look at a few.
Jesus said: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) That's from the familiar King James Version of the Bible.
Some other Bible translations render that verse as follows:
Notice that all of the above verses speak about the unbelieving dying, perishing, or being utterly destroyed. That's the same as the original Greek written 2000 years ago.
Here are some other Bible verses that seem to say the same thing.
Notice that there's no eternal punishment in those words. Yes, they speak of eternal condemnation, but not eternal punishment. In the original Greek, the above words mean exactly what they say death. Period.
Another thing to consider here is this:
The first verse above says that Satan, etc. will be tormented forever. It doesn't say anything about humans being tormented forever. And the second verse says the lake burns with fire and brimstone, not people. It says that people will suffer a "second death."
Not so fast! There are also Bible verses that appear to say the wicked will be punished forever and ever.
*The word translated "punishment" in this verse is also translated "fear" in other verses (such as 1 John 4:18), the implication being that fear is torment or that the fear of punishment can be considered punishment itself.
No. I'm not saying anything one way or the other. The fact is, we have some verses that say the unrighteous simply die, and we have other verses (at least one, for sure) that say they'll be punished forever. How do we decide which ones to believe? And what if we make the wrong decision? You could join other critics and unbelievers who reject Christ and say the Bible contradicts itself in which case, why are you reading any of this to begin with?
We believe the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant Word meaning it's all true and does not contradict itself. Therefore, we can't simply decide what to believe based either on church tradition or on what we hope is true. Instead, we have to delve deeper to try to discern what the Lord wants us to see. In Isaiah 1:18, the Lord says, "Come, let us reason together . . ." But, how can a finite human mind even begin to comprehend the infinite mind of God? It involves asking difficult questions . . . questions that don't make sense . . . questions for which there don't seem to be any answers. For instance . . .
Or to put it another way, can "eternal" mean a "forever state of existence" but not necessarily an "actively ongoing (or continuing) process"?
And if that's the case, does that mean that John 3:16 is untrue in saying that believers live forever but unbelievers "perish" . . . or is it, most likely and more appropriately, that our understanding is incomplete?
We could probably come up with other questions that pit one idea against the other, but I think those are enough for now. Perhaps the best example of what we're doing with these questions is found in magnets. No matter how hard you try, you can't force two magnets together. In much the same way, we can't force these two views about eternal death or eternal punishment into agreement. They are diametrically opposed to one another. That is, they are each valid and equal, and yet opposite of each other. And as opposites, they can never be reconciled at least not by our limited and imperfect thinking.
Me too! If you think about it, there really is only one Person who can understand these two perspectives and bring them into perfect agreement. And that's the One who said, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first", "He who would lose his life will find it and he who would save his life will lose it." Those are called oxymorons, and God majors in oxymorons and in making sense of the nonsensical.
After all, He thought the best way to save the world was to come to earth in the form of a helpless baby born in a feeding trough, live homeless most of His adult earthly life, and die a horrendous death on a cross! No other god would ever do it that way! No human would do it that way! But, our God did . . . !
So, it's reasonable to conclude that He could say the unbelieving will die and the unbelieving will suffer eternally. And from His omniscient (infinitely wise, all knowing) perspective, there is no conflict.
will be punished forever and yet maybe not?
Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. Is there a place of eternal torment for wicked humans? I'm not 100% convinced. Do the unsaved simply die, eternally separated from God and any consciousness at all? I don't know. Some Scriptures seem to say so.
Here's what I do know. The Bible says, with absolute confidence and no disagreement or confusion . . .
The Bible also tells us that . . .
The Bible may leave us confused about whether or not someone who rejects Christ will be tormented or punished forever. But there is no confusion in saying that those who reject Him won't live in Paradise or Heaven forever.
Here's something to think about. Imagine you're standing there before God's judgment throne with millions and millions of other people. Suddenly you realize that you're one of the "unbelieving" and that you're about to be swept away for all of eternity. No more chances to say "yes". No making excuses that you didn't understand or no one told you or you didn't have time. Your eternal destiny is settled . . . and waiting . . .
During the few seconds or minutes you're waiting to be taken away, you're suddenly struck with another frightening realization. You had a chance to choose and you made the wrong choice! Now, you don't know what awaits you on the other side. Will you simply cease to exist (which I think is pretty scary) or . . . will you actually go to that place we call "Hell" where "there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth"?
Wouldn't those few seconds while you're waiting and wondering heart pounding wildly, profound dread gripping every part of your being feel like an eternity? And . . . wouldn't the uncertainty and fear of what awaits you . . . be Hell . . . ?
but after this the judgment."
Beloved . . . Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels, not you. There is a place He's prepared for you, however, that's so much better than anything you can possibly imagine! After today, you won't ever be able to say you didn't know, you weren't told, or you weren't given a chance to say "yes" . . . ! Please say "yes" today . . . before it's too late!
behold, now is the day of salvation."
(2 Corinthians 6:2b)