Hell Is Real
“I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” ~Jesus
Nobody likes to talk about hell. It’s not very popular to tell someone, “Hey, you know that sin you have in your life? If you don’t ask Christ into your heart to forgive you for that sin, once and for all, you will go to hell.” That’s not cool—but it is loving—if you can pull it off in the proper way.
If you don’t, you probably won’t be getting an invite to the next BBQ. However, if we look to Jesus, He warned us more about hell than He talked positively about heaven. He spoke about hell all the time because He doesn’t want any of us to go there.
I believe the main problem with telling others about hell is the approach most Christians have, myself included. There is a fine line here. One of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter, advises us to tell others about the hope we have in Christ, but to do so with gentleness and respect (see 1 Peter 3:15). I’ve never won anyone over to believing in Jesus by being rude to them about the gospel. We don’t make Jesus look good to unbelievers (which He is good) by acting snarky, self-righteous, or by trying to make them petrified of hell.
Sure, I think Jesus wants us to make it known that there is a place He has nothing to do with—a place specifically reserved for those who reject His free forgiveness–but we are to make that place known about, with grace.
Let’s do some 101 stuff here about hell, and then let’s try to see if we can get people to not so much be afraid of hell—although, heck yes we should be, it’s a bad place—but let’s try to get people to see the easy way out of going to hell: Jesus’ death on the Cross and our belief in that event as true for our own personal sin—not others’ sins—but our own. We have to believe we need it (keep the focus on ourselves), and then receive it freely by grace through faith in that event (see 1 John 1:8, Romans 3:23-24, Ephesians 2:8,9).
The worst part about hell is that it does not end, but the best part about heaven is the same. So let’s refocus!
I like to make lists when I study God’s Word, as well as in other areas of my life. An organized break-down makes things more memorable. Itemizations of steps to take, goals to strive for, things I want to learn more about (or expound on), lists have always helped me further myself. So here’s a list of some of the facts about hell, what we can do to help others not go there, and why it even exists. Let’s start with that last subject:
1. Why is there a hell? Jesus said that hell is a place of fire, and that it was created for the devil and his demons (see Matthew 25:41). Some people claim we are currently in hell, but we’re not. There are three different realms. Heaven, hell, and this physical universe. God is a part of two of these realms (heaven and earth), and so is Satan and his demons (hell and earth). As humans, currently, you and I are a part of just one—the physical universe (earth). But one day we will die physically, and spiritually, we will go on to be in heaven or hell. Heaven is sin-free, a place where God’s love is completely undiluted. That’s why it’s so wonderful. Hell is only sin and love is not allowed. It is a place of torment where evil is completely undiluted. In hell, God’s presence is void, that’s why it’s so terrible—because He is not there. This physical universe (the planet you are on) has a mixture of the option of both good and evil—in order to have free will. Our free wills are finalized in heaven or hell. You will become one with either place.
2. God is here with us, on earth. In hell, He is not there. I just touched on this, but I want to go a little further. In heaven, God’s presence is magnified completely. In heaven, His will is done completely. He is so prevalent there that He is heaven. When we get there, we will actually get our light from Him, just like we currently get our light from the sun. This is why the Bible says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23).
3. “Nobody will be in heaven who doesn’t want to be there.” This was something Grandma used to always say to me. The fact of the matter is that it is our choice whether we go to heaven or not. God doesn’t decide, we do. Our loving Creator doesn’t send people to hell, we go there by rejecting the gospel. The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). As you can see, God has made it simple to go to heaven….BELIEVE IN JESUS AS YOUR LORD. The religious Christians have made it so much more difficult than simply believing He has forgiven us (past tense). Should we repent of sinful behavior and attitudes? Should we get baptized in water? Abso-freakin-lutely. BUT, repentance of incorrect actions and attitudes, nor water baptism, will get you to heaven. These are the carts behind the horse. These are the things you do to build up your relationship with God–after being saved for free–in order to show Him how much you love Him. These are the things which allow you to have the abundant life Jesus spoke about! (See John 10:10).
4. A “terrible person” who didn’t get baptized or prove to God through his actions (behavior repentance), is currently in heaven. That person is the thief on the cross. When Jesus was hanging on His cross, a man next to Him was being executed on his own cross. This man told Jesus he believed him, and Jesus said, “On this day, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus didn’t get down off His Cross, run to the closest well, get a bucket of water, and then come back and toss it up on him–neither did anyone else. And, this man didn’t even have a chance to turn his life around. Yes, the earthly consequences of his sin was killing him, but he still believed in Jesus. This happens to Christians every day. So it is our belief which saves us—our heart condition toward Christ! Now THAT’S good news!
5. As a Christian, you must stop being afraid of hell. “STOP BEING AFRAID?! Matt, you can’t say that! People are going to hell every day!” I know, but we aren’t. I’m not saying don’t be afraid of hell if you don’t believe in Jesus as your Savior, that’s a very healthy fear. I’m saying, once you do believe in Jesus, stop being afraid of hell. Sure, be afraid of what your unrenewed thinking will do to your life, but stop being afraid of eternal punishment. You ain’t going there once you believe Jesus has forgiven you—I repeat—once! As in, THE VERY FIRST TIME! (See Hebrews 10:10, Romans 6:10). The very moment you believed He forgave you, He actually did. And He forgave all your sin—past, present, and dare I say, future. YES! This is the gospel! Keep in mind, when Jesus died, all of your sins were in the future. He is not bound by time. I know this immeasurable forgiveness is impossible to grasp in our finite minds, but it’s true! So stop being afraid! You’ve been adopted into the family of God, and as long as Jesus lives you will stay saved from hell! (See Ephesians 1:5, Hebrews 7:25).
Of course, I could continue on with this list, but I believe this will help you understand hell better. Remember, God doesn’t want you to go there! That’s why He sent Jesus! He’s made it so easy for us to be sure we don’t end up there after we die: BELIEVE IN JESUS AS YOUR SAVIOR. The legalistic people will say, “Even the demons believe and shudder” (James 2:19). That’s true, but they are already damned, we aren’t. And they aren’t asking for forgiveness, we are.
So repeat this prayer with me, believe it in your heart as true, and you will not go to hell:
Jesus, I am a sinner. I have sin in my life that I need you to take care of for me. I do not have the ability to remove the sin punishment of hell FOR my sin, only you do. The Bible says that God is patient with us because He doesn’t want any of us to parish, and I’m grateful for that. Thank you for your patience with me! I don’t want to go to hell. I want to go to heaven and be with you forever. Please, forgive me of all my sin. Past, present, and future. Make your home in my heart. I want to live my life for you. Please live through me and show me how to do this each day. Please begin to mold my life into what YOU want it to be. Always remind me that you are here. Remind me that you love me, and remind me not to be afraid. Thank you for saving me. Now help me to do your will day by day, and help me to help others find you too so that they can enjoy their life on earth, and in heaven with us! Thank you! Amen.
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