The Christian doctrine of hell: conscious, painful, separation from God for all eternity for those who refuse God’s salvation. Perhaps the most difficult doctrine to deal with – for both Christians and non-Christians alike. This is such a difficult teaching there are plenty of people, cults and religions who outright deny it. After the denial of the deity of Christ, the doctrine of hell is one of the first Biblical teachings to go. In its place – everything from annihilation of the soul to universal salvation. Apparently the doctrine of hell is so scary even annihilation – eternal nonexistence – is preferable to the Biblical doctrine of hell. According to one account, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory (a temporary place of punishment to pay for any un-forgiven sins) came about because punishment consisting of eternal wrath could not be countenanced by at least one early church father. But the doctrine of purgatory is strictly a Catholic add on teaching – it’s not in the Bible. And it’s not what we’re talking about. Let’s be clear about what we are talking about.
Hell – as we typically think about is actually called in the Bible the Lake of fire – a place of eternal, painful, separation from God. (Rev 20.14-15) There is another painful prison used to hold unbelievers until the final judgment. That place is called “hell” (Luke 16.20-31). But it is clear that place is used to hold unbelievers until the final place of eternal judgment, because occupants of hell are eventually dumped into the Lake of fire – where they exist in torment forever. (Rev 20.14)
So to be clear, the “hell” we’re talking about is:
- Eternal (2 Thess 1.9)
- Hopeless – since you will be there all eternity, there is no hope of escape
- Those there are conscious (aware of the fact that) they’re there (Matt 13.42) and no doubt conscious that their own decisions in life are directly responsible for them being there (Luke 16.29-31)
- Painful (Matt 13.42, Mark 9.48, Rev 20.15) – Flames, and worms acting upon the body are no doubt meant to convey the concept of pain.
- People will exist there in resurrected bodies that cannot cease to exist: (Dan 12.2, Rev 20.5) – No annihilation here
- There will be no sense of the presence of the Lord (2 Thess 1.9)
- And since there will be no sense of the Lord, there will be no trace of the good things the presence of the Lord brings. Those who wanted to be free from God will finally get their wish. So no more light (since God is light, (1 John 1.5)), No more good things – since all good things are from God (Jam 1.17), no one to wipe away tears, mourning and pain – since again, God will be doing all those good things (Is 25.8, Rev 21.4); no healing – that will be exclusively in the domain where God exists (Rev 22.2); No river to quench your thirst – that will be exclusively in heaven -in the domain of God (Rev 22.1). I suspect like Tantalus, you will desire, but will never be fulfilled, since God is the fulfillment of all our desires. (Is 55.1, John 7.37-39, Rev 22.17)
- No party – I’ve heard some who refuse to repent joke that they’ll be partying in hell with their friends. The idea of being bound in darkness (Matt 22.13) is no doubt an attempt to convey lonely solitude that you cannot change (you’re bound after all, and you can’t perceive what’s beyond you). So no party, there will be no fun in hell.
- If there is anyone else there, you will be made aware of the presence of the devil and his angels who will no doubt share the torment and agony they’re in with you (Matt 25.41, 8.29) By the way isn’t it interesting that the demons know there’s an appointed time for their “torture” to begin? (Matt 8.29) Like many things spiritual, the unbelievers of this world are ignorant of the fact that a specified day has been chosen and set for eternal torment to begin for those who refuse to believe.
This then, is the hell as presented in the scriptures. My goal here is not discuss how a loving God could send people to hell or why a loving God would create hell or whether and how you can believe in a God who would send people to hell. Those topics have been well covered. Instead I have a simple, two fold purpose. That is to tell you these two things:
1. Hell is for Liars
God has a very dim view of liars.(Zec 8.17) In fact he hates unrepentant liars and refuses to let them into heaven:
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
2. A Sample of lies that will lead you to Hell
The lies that I am about to present are not necessarily attacks on the heart of the gospel, or some outrageous heresy. What they are, however, is sufficient enough to keep you from God if you seriously believe them, and use them as an excuse to refuse to repent and believe (Mark 1.15) as Jesus calls you to do. God gives us free will. Therefore He doesn’t force you to repent from your lies, He doesn’t force you to believe. You are truly free to live as you like and believe what you want. But if you believe lies, you will suffer the consequence of believing a lie. Just like if for whatever reason, you believe poison is good for you (whether because it was hidden in good food or whatever) you will still suffer the consequences of ingesting the poison. If it’s a deadly poison, you will likely die.
Lies are no small thing. All lies are worthy of death. All lies are worthy of the punishment of hell. So if your belief in the following lies keeps you from repenting, believing God and following Jesus, you’re going to wind up in the hell described above. So without further ado:
Some of the popular Lies that will keep you separated from God, and headed to hell
- Atheism “There is no God”
Whether the hard claim there is no God, or the softer claim there’s no proof for God. That’s a lie. Stay on this road, and you’re headed for hell. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Ps 14.1)
- Agnosticism “You Can’t know if there’s a God”
The claim you don’t know or can’t know whether there’s a god. Another lie.18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
- Abortion “A woman’s body is her own – it’s her decision”
That’s a lie. A baby is a separate person. Therefore abortion is murder of an innocent person. Unforgiven, unbelieving murderers do not go to heaven: “…you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” 1 Jn 3.15
The Big Bang “The universe began from an uncaused ‘singularity’ 13.7 billion years ago”
I have often called the big bang a fairy tale for adults. That was being nice. To be blunt – the big bang is a lie. Actually it’s a series of lies. I document many of the lies on this site. But you need not read all those articles to know it’s false. All you have to understand is that the big bang is an attempt to present a materialistic origin of the universe – without having to appeal to God to start it. You need merely read Gen 1.1 to know that is false: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Like evolution, this is a particularly dangerous lie because it entices you to believe God is not necessary to explain the wondrous universe we live in.
- Evolution: “All life is a descendant from a single common ancestor; all evolved via processes of mutation and natural selection over millions of years.”
Just as the big bang attempts to show the origin of the universe apart from God, evolution – in its broadest sense – attempts to show the origin of life apart from God. Another lie. There is no life apart from God. “You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.” (Neh 9:6)
Like the Big bang, this is a particularly dangerous lie because it entices you to believe God is not necessary to explain the origin and diversity of life.
- Deniers of Biblical Morality: “I determine what’s right and wrong” “Anyone can marry anyone. Love wins”
Both lies. Scripture is rather clear on these points. Marriage is between one man and one woman: “…a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24)God will not tolerate the lies that people tell themselves to allow themselves to live immoral lives: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6.9-10)
- Deniers of hell: “There is no such thing as hell”
The reason to deny this doctrine is obvious. No one wants to believe they’re headed to hell. But Jesus was clear: we must obey God over the foolish, self-serving doctrines of man, or risk the fires of hell: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Hell was made for the father of lies (Jn 8.44, Matt 25.41). And if you persist in lies like these without repenting and turning to Jesus, you too will suffer the same fate as the father of lies. Or as Jesus said, “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.” John 8.24
Some might be thinking, “you’re condemning most of modern society. Most intelligent people don’t believe your narrow minded, science denying, Christian morality.” To which I say, I am not condemning anyone. I am simply pointing out what God has said through scripture. And yes that excludes a great many people. It’s not without reason that Jesus said,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
If you’re wondering what or who the gate is, Jesus said:
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
I agree, the road is narrow, and these are but some of the lies that will keep you from God if they cause you to refuse Jesus. But scripture is clear. God will not tolerate unrepentant liars in heaven:
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
These are not my words, these are the words of the Living God. Believe them or not at your own peril.
But what is it that motivates people to hold to such obvious lies? What’s at the heart of these lies that drives people to throw away heaven, and put blinders on so they don’t have to watch as they walk the path to hell? We’ll look at that question in part 2 of this article.
1. Michael Horten, “How can I believe in a God who sends people to Hell”, Core Christianity, Dec 4, 2017, https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/how-i-can-believe-in-a-god-who-sends-people-to-hell Back
2. See Sean McDowell, “How could a loving God send a good person to hell?” http://seanmcdowell.org/blog/how-could-a-loving-god-send-a-good-person-to-hell
4. Michael Horten, “How can I believe…”
5. Evolutionists will quibble over whether “Evolution” includes the origin of life. Darwinian evolution in its strictest sense does not, but Evolutions – in its broadest sense as I stated – necessarily includes the origin of life. See, Meme: Evolution can’t explain how life started, http://rationalfaith.com/evolutionist-misconceptions/Evolution-can%27t-explain-how-life-started.htm
6. By “diversity of life” I do not mean to deny speciation can occur. My point is that the main diversity – the many “kinds” as the Bible calls there are a result of a special creation by God.
All images used by permission
Featured: Lies lead to hell – composite by Duane Caldwell
“Truth or Lie” © L. Klauser | fotolia – used by permission
“Devil” © dusan Kostic | fotolia – used by permission