If Hell Does Not Exist
Long has the idea of an eternal place of punishment been at least suspect in the minds of many people. Hell is a place that is thought to be talked about only by the “religious fanatics” or the “fundamentalist” preachers/teachers, looking to frighten their memberships into obedience. The nearly 300 yr. old sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is now relegated to the status of a museum piece: examined and studied to show how people used to be, but archaic and not applicable anymore. In our own times men have argued such things as: “If God is Love, He would never send anyone to Hell”, “God would not hold a grudge against sin for all eternity”, and “What good/benefit is there to punish men and women forever?”
Is it any wonder today that people act/behave as if there is no Hell? There has been an alarming rise in the numbers of murder/suicide in our country. The vast majority of mass shootings that have happened over the last few years have ended in the shooter ending their own life after attacking and killing many others. This trend, in part, could be the result in the general lack in belief of an eternal Hell wherein the unrepentant sinful are sent for all eternity. The problem is the same one we have with our belief in Heaven: nobody has died, viewed what exists on the other side (despite what people claim to have done) and come back from the dead to report the information to the living. Therefore, our belief in what lies beyond must be had on faith. This does not weaken our position, however, because the Scriptures give us the only clear and consistent information about what happens after we die. There are several important implications that one must consider if Hell truly does not exist.
1. The Bible must be false.
The scriptures are filled with references to “hell”. In the Old Testament (especially the KJV), hell is commonly used as another word for death destruction, or the grave. (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:5; Ps. 116:3) These do not reference the Hell we are describing here. The Hell that is described in scripture is a place of “eternal fire” (Matt. 25:41), “eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:46), “outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12), “eternal destruction” (2 Th. 1:9), and the famous “Lake of fire” (Rev. 19:20). This place of eternal consequences is often described as “Eternal Conscious Torment”, wherein those within do not perish or cease from existence, but are eternally, knowingly punished for their unforgiven sins. The scripture is clear about who will inhabit this place. The Devil (Satan) and his angels (Matt. 25:41), the wicked (Rev. 21:8), the disobedient (Rom. 2:8-9), the fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4), The Beast and his followers (Rev. 19:20, 14:11), and those who reject the Gospel message (Matt. 10:15) will all be punished in this way. Simply put, if the Scriptures are wrong on the subject of the existence of Hell, how are we to trust anything else that is written within? If we are willing to dismiss the Bible’s teaching on Hell (Oh, and check how many of these references are the words of Jesus Himself), what is to stop us on dismissing the entirety of scripture? How can we believe Heaven exists if Hell certainly cannot (or a more popular doctrine, that God would never send any of His created children there)!?
2. God is not the God of the Bible.
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:22)
Many people would claim that the God of the bible is not a God that would send anyone to a place such as Hell. Many erroneous arguments have been made to this effect, most of them centering around God’s everlasting, infinite love for His creation, which I would not argue against. However, this argument ignores something vitally important to know about God: His everlasting, infinite Holiness. The part of God that does not tolerate the presence of sin, nor allow those corrupted by it to be in His presence. Consider the words of Hannah in 1 Sam. 2:2, “There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” Our God is one that is Holy above all else. His justice is perfect, complete, and incessant. It is this God that told Moses in Ex. 32:33 “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book”. There is no variation or compromise here. Those that God does not forgive of sin through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus will be blotted from the book of life! (Rev. 20:15) God cannot tolerate sin in any form or amount. He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden due to their violation of His command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is interesting that people do not make the argument that God was wrong to cast Adam and Eve from the Garden, dooming them to physical death and separating them from His presence!
3. Jesus died for nothing.
Simply put, without something to be saved from, what good does Jesus’ dying for us accomplish? Why leave Heaven and the presence of God? Why come to this earth, and live the life of not just a human being, but a human being with no status, no resources, and no appreciation? Why die in one of the most painful and disgraceful ways possible, and live His life without sin, if there was no purpose behind it? “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22) Why did sin need to be forgiven in mankind if there was no chance, no possibility of punishment for sin? If there is no place of eternal punishment, if God is too loving and righteous to condemn even one soul to eternal Hell, Jesus Christ died to save the condemned souls of this world from absolutely nothing.
I would encourage all who would read this to readily affirm the real presence and possibility of a soul going to Hell. I would also encourage you to heed the message of the gospel, which is the only way that you and those you love can avoid this place of Eternal Conscious Torment. Let those words sink in. Eternal = never ending, without stopping. Conscious = presence of mind, sober, fully aware of present circumstances. Torment = severe suffering, intense pain. Perhaps the words of Jonathan Edwards (author of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) below are more applicable today than most people are comfortable acknowledging:
“O Sinner! Consider the fearful Danger you are in: 'Tis a great Furnace of Wrath, a wide and bottomless Pit, full of the Fire of Wrath, that you are held over in the Hand of that God, whose Wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the Damned in Hell: You hang by a slender Thread, with the Flames of divine Wrath flashing about it, and ready every Moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no Interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of to save yourself, nothing to keep off the Flames of Wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you ever have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one Moment.”
While these words are well-written and certainly provoke us to truly consider the reality of Hell, I would rather conclude with the Scripture’s description of the plight of the sinner:
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:26-31)