In the Old Testament, we don't have much information on the after life, but, Jesus expounded upon this subject and gives us more description and reasons for it.
In today's culture, many nominal Christians believe that you can believe in whatever you want and that is what constitutes truth. Many do not believe hell exists simply because they don't want to. Others misunderstand the Bible and say that Jesus never really talked about hell, and that God is all loving and doesn't send people there. But we always need to go back to the Bible to find out what is real and true.
Jesus describes hell as a place of eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus explains that those who were selfish will go there. In Luke 16, The Rich Man ended up there. He was very selfish and after he died, he was surprised to find himself in this fire. He was able to see Abraham and asked him some questions. Abraham told the Rich Man that there would be no way to cross the great gulf that separated hell from the place where Abraham was. Conversely, no one was able to cross over from Abraham's side into hell.
So, once someone is in hell, he or she will never get out of it. Also, hell will never end. But even with all this information, most people will still end up there. Why?
The Rich Man, in his conversation with Abraham, pointed out that he had 5 brothers, and asked Abraham to send someone to warn them. He felt compassion for his brothers. He didn't want them to end up where he was. Abraham replied to the Rich Man that the brothers had Moses and the Prophets. The brothers could listen to Moses and the Prophets. The problem is, as is today, that no one seeks after God. We seek after God only because we want things, or we don't want certain things to happen to us. We use God like a magic wand thinking He will be happy with us if we believe in Him (not necessarily trusting in Him, but more of believing that He exists). The devil believes God exists, yet he doesn't know Him and will end up in hell one day.
Who ends up in hell, and why? The Bible says that the devil and his angels will be there. God did not provide a way for the fallen angels to be redeemed, but He did provide a way for fallen human beings to be redeemed. What is it that we will be redeemed from though?
Every being that God created, was created for the sole purpose of worshiping God. People were made to have a relationship with God. God made Adam and Eve, and they had a relationship with God for a while, until Eve listened to the voice of the devil and was tricked into disobeying God. But, even worse, Adam knew better and he also participated in rebellion against God by taking the forbidden fruit. When God came to visit Adam and Eve, He knew they had disobeyed. God placed a curse on the earth, a curse on the serpent (the devil) and mankind was now under the curse. God also promised to send a redeemer to save mankind. Throughout the Old Testament, God gave clues about this Redeemer who was to come, one day. In the New Testament, the Redeemer came and fulfilled all of the promises about Him that were given throughout the Old Testament.
Since Genesis 3, human beings have been suffering and sinning. The human race needed help. The problem is, people, who were made to have relationship with God, and with one another, were now very selfish. Instead of being 'God-centered', people were now 'me-centered'.
The Bible says that 'no one seeks after God'. Also, our hearts are deceitfully wicked. The great commandment is to 'love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.' Also, we are to 'love our neighbor as we love ourselves'. If we were able to do those two commandments, we would be doing all the commandments God gives us. But, since we are born in sin, we can't, and God must punish us.
Hell is a place people go to, in order to pay for their sins. Because of who God is, He must punish sin. Every big sin will be punished. Every little sin will be punished. Sin is not just the external things we do. It is the heart motive behind why we do these things. For example, the Bible says, 'You shall not kill'. Most of us have never literally killed someone, so we think we are off the hook, but in 1 John 3, anyone who is angry with his brother is a murderer, and the verse continues, 'and no murderer has eternal life abiding in him'.
So, let's recap.
1. Hell is one of two places people go to after they die.
2. There is a gulf separating hell from heaven that cannot be crossed.
3. Hell is eternal. There is no end to it ever.
4. God created hell to punish the devil and his angels, and also for people to pay for their sins by being there.
5. Those who do not respond to God's provision for salvation, will go to hell.
You might think this is unfair. The Rich Man did. Many are going to be surprised when they end up there. But the answer is the same for us and for the Rich Man. We have the Law, the Prophets, and Moses. We are responsible for what we do with that. You might think it is unfair that you were born in sin. You are not responsible for being born in sin. What we are responsible for, it responding to God and receiving His grace so we can be reconciled back to Him. You can't take your sins away, but God provided Someone who could cleanse you from sin. You are responsible to turn away from sin, turn to God, and trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior from sin and from God's wrath. The Rich Man never made it that far. He may have known about God's laws, but it was never in his heart to obey and love God. It's not in our hearts either. That's why we need a new heart.
We were created to worship God, and live our lives for Him and His glory. When we come to Christ in repentance and faith, He gives us a new heart. We are also placed in God's family and are now one of God's adopted children.
The choice is ours. The issue isn't one about escaping hell, as much as it is an issue of being reconciled back to God. When we come to Him in repentance and trust, He promises to never leave us. Life has many choices. Eternity has only 2.
|Those who do not know God, and do|
not receive the salvation He provides
will spend eternity in hell.