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:
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…
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!