Recently, I was sitting among a group of people who were discussing a speaker they had heard at their church in recent weeks who had apparently given a very in-depth and detailed message. Out of the blue one of the folks in the group said something that I just cannot get out of my mind. It went something like this, “And what about all that talk about hell? Hell is not something I like to think about, it is not something that I talk to my children about, it is not something that we hear sermons about. I just don’t think about it.”
I will agree that we don’t, for the most part, hear too many sermons on hell, but let me tell you, I can remember vividly the one I heard Rev. Dick Baker preach when I was a young girl. At that moment, I was convinced that I didn’t want any part of hell.
I feel like people fall out all over the spectrum on the topic of hell. Some know nothing about it, others don’t want to even think about it, while others are like me, and are absolutely convinced of its reality. Today, I want to give you FOUR things to consider about hell.
Hell is referenced in the Old Testament
In Hebrew (Old Testament), the word for hell is sheol and it means underworld, pit, place of no return, without praise of God. The Greek (New Testament) word for hell is gehenna. In ancient Israel, this name identified an actual place known as the Valley of Hinnom. It was located south of Jerusalem, and was a continual fire where the trash of the city, as well as dead animals, were destroyed. Can you even imagine the place? Try for just a moment. The city dump that continually burned is a horrible picture, but then throw in the smell of rotten, burning flesh of dead animals, and it becomes hideous.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of hell in connection with the fall of Satan. Satan’s pride and his insatiable desire for power would cause him to be banished to the lowest depths of hell. King Solomon warns his son in Proverbs 27:20 that ‘hell and destruction are never full’.
Jesus spoke of hell in the New Testament
Jesus called hell the ‘unquenchable fire’ (Matthew 3:2), ‘destruction’ (Matthew 7:13), ‘outer darkness’ (Matthew 8:11), and ‘furnace of fire’ (Matthew 13:50). He referenced the ‘gates of hell’ (Matthew 16:18), and told His followers that it would be better to be without a hand or an eye than to be cast into hell (Matthew 5:29, Matthew 18). He told a story of the rich man in hell and Lazarus in heaven, and how one could not cross over from hell to heaven.
God does not SEND anyone to hell
In Proverbs 23:13 Solomon says, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell.” This verse tells us is that hell is a place where people can go. Notice I did not say, ‘where people are sent’. God doesn’t SEND anyone to hell. People make the choice to spend eternity in hell. Hell will be the final destination for all who choose to reject Jesus as their Lord.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.2 Peter 3:9
How do I avoid hell?
This may be news to some people, but none of us are perfect! Only perfect people get into heaven, while everyone else is headed for hell. God knew that the entire human race was doomed because no one was perfect. Imperfection, disobedience, sin~~doesn’t matter what you call it~~requires death as the payment. I deserved to die because of my sin, and that would mean I was headed for hell. God allowed His perfect Son, Jesus, to step up and pay the price I owed for my sin. Jesus died on a cross, and took my punishment. He was buried, and rose again, and lives in heaven with God today.
Does what Jesus did keep me out of hell? Well, yes and no. Yes, His payment was enough, but it was only enough if I ask for it to pay the fine for my sin. Unless I admit that I am sinful, tell God that I am sorry for my sin, and ask Jesus to allow His blood to cover, or pay for, my sin, I am still an unbeliever and I am headed for hell (Revelation 21:8).
Again, God does not SEND anyone to hell. Those who refuse to recognize and admit their sin, and ask Jesus to forgive them, are the ones who choose hell. God simply honors their choice.
Hell is a very, very real place. It is a place that we all must consider in this life, whether we want to or not. God doesn’t want anyone to go to hell, but He leaves the choice up to you and me. Here is why I choose heaven.
So, what will it be—heaven or hell?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Interested in learning more about HELL? Check out THIS POST.
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