Ask Your Preacher
HEAVEN & HELL
So, I have a question about hell. A preacher at a congregation is saying that through his studies, he is starting to believe that hell is not the traditional "fire and brimstone" that Christians think, but instead, it might just be "death of the person's spirit". I haven't gotten a chance to ask him for the verses that he says support his belief (he did mention Isaiah). He believes people have been leaving out these verses over the years. I am pretty sure what I believe about hell – that there is an eternal punishment – considering I have been praying over the subject and studying; also, I thought that Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and goats was a very good answer to the question of what hell is. Anyways, I was wondering if you have heard this argument before and might know what verses he is referencing; also, I would love to hear your opinion and any other verses concerning hell that you might have.
Hesitant About Heat
Dear Hesitant About Heat,
There are several very clear texts that deal with what happens to lost souls when they die. Mk 9:47-49 says that hell is a place where “the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched” – the exact opposite of annihilation. Jesus also told the story of a rich man that died and went to torments (Lk 16:22-23). In torments, the rich man was in constant burning anguish without relief (Lk 16:24). Abraham told the rich man that he would remain in anguish and that there was a great gulf eternally fixed between those in Paradise and those in torments (Lk 16:25-26). Four times in the book of Matthew, hell is described as a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 8:12, Matt 22:13, Matt 24:51, and Matt 25:30).
In order to take an annihilation point of view, you would have to take every verse that deals with the torment, suffering, and pain associated with hell and somehow explain how they are all figurative… this includes the story of the rich man and Lazarus found in Luke 16. If the rich man didn’t literally descend into torments, then we must also say that faithful Lazarus wasn’t literally escorted into Paradise. Taking that story as figurative cuts both directions.
The verses in Isaiah that are often referred to as “proof” of annihilation of the wicked are verses like Isa 26:14 and Isa 43:17. However, these verses are taken out of context and deal with physical death (in which case, the person’s body does cease to have life – our physical bodies aren’t eternal). The fact is that nobody talked about hell more than Jesus, and Jesus always talked about it as a physical place that was reserved for the wicked (Jude 1:13). Yes, the wicked will be destroyed – their souls will forever be separated from God in a place of burning and pain. Though some good brethren believe that hell is not an eternal location and that the wicked are destroyed at death, we don’t believe that this holds up to biblical scrutiny.
Will I go to hell because I cussed God and called Him some dirty names?
Blasphemy is one of the things that is specifically said will send you to hell (2 Tim. 3:2), and you shouldn’t take lightly what you have done. We can be forgiven for using the Lord’s name in vain, but only if we repent and turn to the Lord. God has provided a means for all sins to be forgiven – His Son’s blood. When we become christians (read “What Must I Do To Be Saved?” for details on how to become a christian), all sins are forgiven, even our previous blasphemy against God… but without His grace, we cannot expect to speak evil of the Creator of heaven and earth and not to have consequences.
If you believe in God and commit suicide, would you go to hell?
Dear Damage Calculator,
Suicide is murder, self-murder, and is therefore very clearly a sin (Rev 21:8). The only difference between suicide and murdering someone else is that you don’t get a chance to repent after suicide. Suicide is a final decision and leaves no room for correction or for asking forgiveness. It is a willful act of disobedience against God without opportunity for repentance. The final judgment belongs to God (Heb 12:23), but we certainly wouldn’t want to face that judgment with our own blood on our hands.
If a person was open to the idea of Jesus Christ... but didn't truly believe, and she was the most kindest person you have ever met, would she automatically go to hell even if she was a very kind and respectful person?
Fond Of My Friend
Dear Fond Of My Friend,
Nobody gets to heaven because they are such a good person (Rom 3:27-28). Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the perfection that gives you a right to enter heaven’s gates (Rom 3:23). No amount of good deeds cancel out your bad deeds. If I save a million lives, but murder one – I am still a murderer. Sin requires forgiveness, and forgiveness is a gift (Rom 6:23). We receive that gift through Jesus’ sacrifice (Jhn 3:16), and we can only be redeemed by Jesus’ blood when we place our faith in Him (Rom 3:24-25). We place our faith in Christ when we hear His Word (Rom 10:17) and obey it. There is no way to God except through Christ (Jhn 14:6). It is good if someone is kind, but kindness isn’t what saves you – Jesus is (Jhn 10:7-11).
I just wanted to say that I’m not an atheist, and I don’t want to challenge religious views or anything. I am curious about Christianity and have a puzzling question. Since I currently don’t believe in any sort of religion and am unsure whether or not there is a god, if I died right now, would I automatically go to hell just because I haven’t accepted the Lord as my savior? I have morals and am generally a good person, so how could God send me to hell to burn forever? Is He really that cruel? Thank you in advance to whoever reads this; I appreciate your time.
Jesus is a very exclusive Savior. He very boldly claims, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no comes to the Father, but by Me.” (Jhn 14:6). If you don’t have a life of faith built upon following Christ, you won’t be saved. We aren't saved by being good people (everybody thinks they are a good person); we are saved by being in Christ (Jhn 10:9). That may sound harsh, but let’s talk about the evidence that God provides to make it possible for a deist to turn into a christian.
First of all, all faith is built upon some sort of evidence. That evidence may be historical data (like when you trust traffic lights to work properly because they have statistically done so in the past), it may be personal experience (i.e. when you trust a friend because they have shown good judgment and loyalty in the past), or circumstantial evidence (like when a jury convicts a murderer based upon the evidence presented to them – even when there weren’t eyewitnesses at the scene of the crime).
Your belief that there is some sort of Supreme Being is probably based upon some sort of basic evidence from the world that you see around you. Rom 1:20 says that God has provided evidence of His existence in the creation around us. From galaxies to atoms, this world shows the signs of design. A design requires a Designer. God’s handiwork is seen in the finely-tuned craftsmanship of the human eye, just like Nikon’s handiwork is shown in the craftsmanship of their cameras. You’ve done well to acknowledge His existence in a general way… but we would beg you to keep digging deeper.
After looking at the general evidence of God’s existence, it is time to look at the specific evidence of the Bible’s supernatural origins. The Bible is a unique book; it is a book that no human could ever write. We would encourage you to read “Who Wrote The Bible?” for a comprehensive list of reasons why the Bible is a book that only God could have written. Once we begin to see the evidence for the Bible’s divine origins, we have no choice but to ask ourselves, “Will I follow God’s Word?”.
God expects us to follow Jesus, and we stand condemned if we don’t, because He has given us plenty of evidence that Jesus is the one and only true Son of God. We would encourage you to follow the evidence – it will lead you straight to Jesus the Christ.