Note: We do not know the author, Heath Rogers, personally, but since this article was just published in the Iuka MS church bulletin, we believe him to be a faithful brother. We’re always interested in reading about the person of God.
Some find the Bible’s teaching of hell to be inconsistent with their understanding of God. In their minds, they can not reconcile the idea of an all-loving, all-powerful God casting people into a lake of fire to burn for all of eternity. This difficulty has led some to pervert or deny the Bible’s teaching on hell and has led others to deny the existence of God. While it may be a difficult idea for our minds to grasp, there are reasons that an eternal hell exists.
Those who struggle with the idea of God sending men to eternal torment have an unbalanced and unbiblical view of God. While God is a God of love (1Jo 4:7-8), he is also capable of anger, wrath and punishment.
- “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy” (Ja 4:12).
- “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God” (Rm 11:22).
It is within God’s character to both reward and punish. Paul said that God
“will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil” (Rm 2:6-9).
God is being consistent with his nature when he grants both eternal rewards and eternal punishment. Heaven is the final outworking of God’s love, while hell is the final outworking of his righteousness.
From the very beginning, God said that sin would be punished. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). God is a God of love, but he is also righteous and holy. God’s holiness will not allow him to ignore sin. He responds to sin with wrath and punishment.
Hell was created as a place of punishment for sin. “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’” (Mt 25:41).
All sin is rebellion against God. Those who follow the devil in rebellion against God will suffer the same fate. Sin has a wage (Rm 6:23). Those who sin are deserving of punishment. However, those who have rejected the sacrifice of God’s Son are even more deserving of this punishment.
“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? … It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hb 10:29, 31).
God is holy. God’s holiness cannot allow sin to come into his presence. Thus, one of the consequences of sin is that it separates man from God (Isa 59:1-2). If one dies while in this alienated condition, he will spend eternity separated from God in hell.
Speaking of heaven, John said, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rv 21:27).
Those who are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire (Rv 20:15), which is an eternal separation from God.
Hell is real, but no one has to be sent to that place of eternal torment. Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God has made a way for us to be forgiven, thus escaping the eternal punishment for our sins. If we will obey the gospel, heaven can be our eternal home.