Questions on Hell


(Chelsea Casali) #1

Hi everyone,

I have been struggling with the concept of Hell for a long time now. Lately these questions have really impacted my view of God. I love God and continue to try to spend time with Him, but I find myself resisting reading the spiritual books I used to read or sermons I would listen to because I am so bothered by these thoughts. My level of distress over the topic definitely stems from personal fears about the salvation of my family. So here are my main two questions about Hell:

  1. How narrow is this road to salvation? I’ve been really studying the teachings of Jesus and He definitely teaches extremes on both sides (eternal blessings and condemnation). Jesus says in Matthew 7, “enter the narrow gate that leads to life, it is hard and few find it.” He also says, “Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven but those who do the will of God.” Jesus makes statements like that quite a bit. First of all, I get confused because that sounds more “works based.” However, I get that your salvation is displayed by your fruit. The main struggle I have is simply the fact that the road is so narrow. I know as evangelicals we talk about witnessing all the time (I went to a Christian college so I’ve spent a lot of time learning about evangelism and doing it), but I just can’t bear the idea that the majority of the world could be going to Hell. I can’t even listen to sermons about the “Luke warm” anymore because I feel so bothered that the majority of people seem to fall into that category. Which leads to my next question about Hell…

  2. I know we deserve death because God says and His word says that the punishment for sin is death. But doesn’t the description of Hell seem quite a bit worse than death? It’s described as a lake of fire with weeping and gnashing of teeth for eternity. I know that could be figurative, but still that’s AWFUL. I’m really struggling with thinking that, for example, my coworkers who haven’t had the exposure to church or the evangelical message, and live according to what they know in the the world, deserve eternal burning. Death, yes, but eternal burning seems incredibly harsh and I question if it’s just. I’ve come to think that maybe there could be levels of Hell, just as there are rewards in Heaven. Another theory I have (just based on the character of God and not anything I’ve read in the Word) is that God will give each person a fair chance to follow Him, even giving them a choice once they die. For instance, asking upon death ‘Do you choose to bow down to me or not?’ So many people around me don’t really understand or know the call to salvation, I know we’re called to tell them, but still I struggle with thinking that if they died tomorrow they’d go to Hell.

I know that I’ll never have all of the answers this side of Heaven, but I feel that I need to come to some conclusion because I just can’t seem to embrace the love of God right now with these questions weighing on my heart. When I think of Heaven or the return of Jesus, instead of excitement I have fear. I am so afraid and upset by who may not be there. At the end of the day though, I keep reminding myself that God’s way is the right way, whatever it is. Thank you so much for hearing my questions! I’m so thankful for a place where I can share my questions and learn from others!


(Melvin Greene) #2

Hi @Chelsea_Casali.

As I read your post, I could sense your tender heart and compassion. I know it seems harsh that God would condem people to a place of unending torment for rejecting Him. As a child in a Christian home, I struggled with the doctrine of hell. Even as an adult the thought of people, including myself, going to hell would fill me with a sickening dread. I didn’t come to salvation until I was around 26, or 27. I understand where you are coming from. I’m not a Bible scholar, or in any way an expert on this. But, here is my understanding of the doctrine of eternal separation of God and the doctrine of salvation.

I guess I should start with the basic understanding that God is perfectly holy and loves us with a perfect love that passes our understanding. God also is a God of justice. Where there is love, there has to be justice. God in loving us wants to have an intimate relationship with us. He loves us and He wants us to love Him. Not because He needs our love, but because in loving Him, we are prosperous and blessed and are truly happy. But, if there is to be love, there has to be a free will to choose to love. Of course where there is a choice to love, there is a choice to hate, at lease a choice to not to love. As you know, Adam and Eve chose to not love, or you can say chose to love themselves more than to love God. This resulted in all mankind being corrupted and sinful and spiritually separated from God. However, God never stopped loving us. The problem is that God is a God of justice and is pure and holy. Also, God cannot act against His nature. Sin has to be atoned for. A price has to be paid.

God, in loving us so much, did not want us to be eternally separated from Him. So, to satisfy the huge debt owed because of our sinfulness He paid the price by sending His son, Jesus Christ. It was the only way, because we cannot not pay it.

The thing is, God did not take away our free will. We still had to chose to accept this gift of salvation, or to refuse it. Now, we need to understand that there is only one way to salvation. God did not create several ways. That’s why Jesus said that the way is narrow. That is the way of truth. It is either true or it’s not. It is either the right way, or it is the wrong way.

I have heard a lot of people ask why did God only create one way for forgiveness of sin. I think that is the wrong question. I think if there is a question to be asked it should be, “ Why did God make any way for forgiveness of sin?” God certainly does not owe us anything. He did it out of pure love for us.

Another aspect of His love is that He won’t force anyone to spend eternity with Him. He gives us a choice. So, God doesn’t send people to hell. We chose where we spend eternity; either with Him, or separated from Him. We chose either heaven, or hell.

I apologize for “ going the long way around the barn,” on this. I guess I just wanted to be thurough. I guess the bottom line on this is that since we believe that there is a hell, this should spur us on to share the gospel where ever God puts us. I remember reading that whenever Charles Spurgeon preached about hell, he would cry. Our hearts should be broken for those who are lost.

I hope this rambling helped in some way, @Chelsea_Casali. I am so glad that you are here and that you asked this question.

God bless!
Mel


(David Cieszynski) #3

Evening Chelsea,

Some very thought provoking questions, and you are not the only to have thought / asked them. Below are some of notes on the subject which may help you or ask more questions :grin:

We shouldn’t get hung up on the people who haven’t heard the Gospel as God knows their hearts; we should get upset for the people who have heard the Gospel and rejected it.

Whoever does enter the eternal state with God the Bible does say it is because of the provision that Christ has made for that individual; now if that person has cognitively rejected him it would be a violation of that person’s’ will to impose that message when that expression has been one of rejection.

Ravi Zacharias Personal analogy: Sex is meant to be an enjoyable interaction between two consenting adults, when there is no consent it isn’t enjoyable and a violation to the non consenting person.

If God overruled our choice he would be a dictator / despot trampling on our choice. John Lennox

God judges people on the basis of evidence they’ve had not what they haven’t had. John Lennox

Hope this helps.


(Keldon Scott) #4

You are so sincere and caring in your query. Thank you. These are very difficult questions, and ever so much more the reason to bold about the gospel message. There have been some very good discussion that I would commend to you here at connect with video links on your topic as well as good Q&A. May the Lord bless your journey and inquiry. Check out:


(SeanO) #5

@Chelsea_Casali Thank you for sharing such a sincere question. Below are some thoughts that I hope will help you to trust God a deeper heart level. The short summary of what is below is:

  1. God will judge each person according to the knowledge they possess - the judge of all the earth will do what is right
  2. It is not clear that Scripture teaches eternal torment for those who reject Jesus - it is possible that after they are judged by God they will cease to exist - this view is called annihilationism

I had a friend come to me after his unbelieving Uncle died and he was very distressed about this very topic. He found peace after watching ‘Hell and Mr. Fudge’ the movie (I include links below) and reading some of Steve Gregg’s book ‘Three Views of Hell’ (also links below). I highly recommend digging into these resources to really gain a deeper understanding of what the Bible teaches.

The more I study the Bible on this topic, the more I trust that Jesus will do the right thing. I trust that the God who gave His Son will judge in grace and truth. I also think it is unclear what exactly the fate of the unbelieving will be, but I can trust because of the love Jesus has shown, it will not be unjust. God is love and He has proven it through His Son Jesus (Romans 5:8).

If you have any additional questions or need clarification please ask - this question is very important to me. The Spirit of Christ grant you peace, wisdom and understanding and open the eyes of your family to see the love and glory of Jesus.

God Will Judge Justly

If we examine Scripture, we see that God’s judgment will in the end be based upon the secrets of men’s hearts. Romans points out that Gentiles are a law to themselves and many passages point out that God will judge men based upon their inner thoughts - their hearts. If someone has never heard of Jesus, we can trust that the judge of all the earth will do what is right.

Romans 2:14-16 - (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Hell and Mr. Fudge

This is a great movie about a man who realized the Bible does not say what people think it says about hell. He struggled because one of his unbelieving friends died when he was young and his father was a minister. He wondered if his friend was being tormented forever and the thought horrified him. He came to realize that when we understand what the Bible actually says about Hell, we can see that the idea of eternal torment is not as clear as many would have us believe.

https://www.hellandmrfudge.org/

Amazon Link

Other RZIM Threads

Other Good Resources


If everything is predestined, then how can God judge?
(Chelsea Casali) #8

Thank you so much everyone for your extremely helpful thoughts. @Melvin_Greene that was a beautiful illustration and reminder of the gospel. And @David_Cieszynski that is a great point, I have been seeing more and more how Biblically it makes sense that God judges people on what they know. Can’t tell you all how much I appreciate your feedback!


(Chelsea Casali) #9

@SeanO wow thank you SO much for all of this information. I can’t tell you how encouraging your response is to me. I can’t wait to explore those resources and will definitely let you know if more questions arise.


(SeanO) #10

@Chelsea_Casali Sure thing - it is a question that I struggled with as well and it meant a lot to me to know that the Biblical view is more complex and nuanced than is generally taught. Look forward to any further discussion and enjoy the resources :slight_smile: