Basic Questions About Big Issues pt 2: Where is the Worst Place in the Bible?

Do a Google search on “What the Bible teaches about hell” and you will be amazed at how many different opinions and viewpoints you will find. Many sites say that hell is the invention of the Medieval Church and was used to get money from people who were hoping to buy their way out of a flaming eternity. Others will tell you that hell is a scare tactic that modern evangelicals use to get more converts.

Understandably, hell is a very unpopular idea among non-Christians and one of the ways of dealing with this uncomfortable subject is to simply deny that the idea is even found in the Bible. Closer examination, however, reveals that not only is there clear teaching about Hell in the New Testament but the person who had the most to say on the subject was Jesus Himself.

A philosopher named Bertrand Russell did his own research on what Jesus taught about hell. In his book titled, “Why I Am Not a Christian” Russell concluded "There is one very serious defect . . . in Christ's moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” Because Mr. Russell found the idea of hell to be offensive and defective, he concluded that Christianity could not be true. The real question is: “Who was defective in what they believed, Jesus or Mr. Russell?”

Those of us who take the authority of the Bible seriously cannot afford to avoid the key subjects of sin, salvation, heaven and hell. Only reading the passages about God’s promises, love, mercy and grace while skipping over the harder teachings will leave us with a distorted or deceived understanding of the truth. When it comes to the big issues of eternity, we cannot be causal or selective in the way we approach God’s Word.

What did Jesus actually teach about hell? He clearly taught that hell is a real place, people suffer punishment and torment there because of the way they lived on earth and that it is a place of fire, outer darkness and separation from God. Granted some of the language is metaphorical, but the obvious point that Jesus was making is that hell is the worst possible place and is filled, pain, regret and suffering beyond anything we will experience on earth.

Perhaps most importantly, In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said that hell was not created for people but “for the Devil and his angels.” When Lucifer rebelled and became Satan, he and the angels that followed him could no longer remain in heaven. Because they are eternal beings and because they chose to not freely worship and serve God (no one is ever forced to do this because angels, like us, have a free will) a place was prepared for them and that place is what we call hell.

God never intended for people to go to hell. I Tim 2:4 makes this clear: God “wants all people to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” Jesus came to prepare a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-2) and His work on the cross is the one and only solution to sin, death, the devil and hell. Unfortunately, because people also choose to reject God and His free gift of salvation, hell is the only option left. God’s heart breaks every time someone rejects His gracious offer of salvation, forgiveness and new life in Christ.

God is both loving and just and He also refuses to violate the free will that He gave to every person. hell is not the result of an angry God but of people who reject a loving Father who extends His grace and mercy to everyone. As C.S. Lewis once said, “I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”

While we certainly do not know everything about heaven, hell or eternity, we do know that one of the most urgent assignments we have is to share the Good News of God’s great love and salvation with as many people as possible so they can know how to approach life and eternity with the full confidence through the finished work of Christ. We have been rescued and liberated in Christ. Now our primary occupation must be to take others with us to heaven!

So grateful for the cross!

Ps George

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