Does the love of Jesus line up with the idea of a God who condemns people to an eternal Hell? You would become a believer in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the “evil streak” that is running through so many aspects of your Christian faith. Do you really expect me to give my heart to such a cruel and sadistic deity? I know you believe the things about hellfire and brimstone are just a medieval myth? My response to this is, Yes, I do desire that you give your heart to God, and “no” this subject on hellfire and brimstone is not a myth. It is real.
The terrifying and unpleasant images we associate with the reality of hell in western culture, comes directly from the words of Jesus Himself. Jesus spoke a great deal about this subject. Consider, how many times Christ speaks of the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” of those who are “cast into outer darkness” (see Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30). He describes “Gehenna” as a place where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44, 46, 48).
He describes the rich man in the parable about himself as inhabiting a “place of torment” (Luke 16:28). There is no way to stay true to the “entire truth” of the scriptures if we’re unwilling to look these passages honestly and head on.
The important thing about this horrific image is the deeper truth it is meant to convey. It’s not the fire and brimstone that makes hell such a tormenting place. Itis the thought of being separated from God. Hell is about being in a wrong relationship to the creator of all Love, kindness, and Life. If you think of it in this manner, you will easily see how God’s wrath and judgment can be understood as a down-side of His love. The writer of Hebrews says it like this, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). We can be warm and comforted, or we can be tormented and burned. It all depends on where we stand in our relationship with God.
This raises another question. The scriptures tells us that God is omnipresent, (Can we truly hide ourselves in a secret place, so I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?'” – Jeremiah 23:24), So how is it possible to speak of being hidden from God? The answer is that separation from God is primarily a matter of human choice. You may be in the same room with me, sitting in the chair, and yet I can refuse to acknowledge your presence. In the same way, though God is “never far from each of us” (Acts 17:27), we can choose to turn away from Him and separate ourselves from God’s love.
It’s an attitude that, once assumed, will over time hardened through habit and practice. Paul notes in Romans 1:21, “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
The willful choice you make is what hell is all about. It’s the reality behind the images of burning and the searing agony we find so often in the word of God. It is the main factor behind theological talk about being cut off from the “ground and source of being.” It is also why people in hell can be utterly suffer, be miserable, afflicted with pain, and lack hope in spite of the fact that God is there with them (Psalm 139:8). More importantly, it explains why the God never sends anyone to hell. You only go to hell by your own choice.
Revelation 21:8 – But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whore mongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Revelation 20:15 – And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Matthew 10:28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Revelation 20:10 – And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Psalms 145:20 – The LORD preserveth all them that love him: but all the wicked will he destroy.
Matthew 5:22 – But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
Encourage Yourself: Billy Graham said once “the death of the righteous is not to be feared” and “is one of the benefits of being a Christian,we have that glorious hope beyond the grave.”