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The Blue Letter Bible

Eschatology :: Hell

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This study is an excerpt of the book by Don Stewart entitled What Everyone Needs To Know About God, which is part of The Basic Bible Study Series published by Dart Press, Orange, California.  Used by permission of the author.

Don Stewart has written over twenty books on the subject of evidences for the Christian faith. These include You Be the Judge, Ten Reason to Trust the Bible, The Coming Temple, The Basic Bible Study Series. In the last fifteen years he has spoken in over thirty countries proclaiming the message that the Christian faith is both reasonable and intelligent.

Why Did God Create Hell?

If it is God's sincere desire that everyone come to know Him why did He create hell in the first place? Why make a place of judgment for humanity?

The Bible teaches that God did not create hell as a judgment for humanity. God created hell for the punishment of the devil and his angels and not as a place for human beings to suffer. Jesus said:

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matthew 25:41).

Hell was created as a place of judgment for Satan and those who followed him in their rebellion against God. The Bible says that the devil and his angels will eventually be consigned to hell:

And the devil who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).

Human beings, who are created in God's image, are not meant to spend eternity away from the presence of God. The place God created for them is heaven. Jesus spoke of this place that God has prepared for those who trust Him:

In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:2,3).

Hell was not created for humanity, but it is the destination for those who reject God's salvation in Jesus Christ.

Why Would a God of Love Send People to Hell?

Some people wonder how hell can be reconciled with a God of love. Why, they ask, would a God of love allow people to go to hell?

God of Justice
The answer to this question is that God is a God of holiness and justice as well as a God of love. These moral attributes are complementary, not contradictory. When the laws of God are disobeyed there must be a judgment. God's laws demand that sin must be paid for. God can still love someone but He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. This is the reason that Jesus Christ came to earth, to die for the sins of the world.

Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).

The emphasis should not be placed upon hell but by the fact that God came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to show His love for mankind:

For when we were without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).

God has showed His love by sending His Son to die for our sins -- to take our punishment -- so that we could go to heaven. The judgment of hell is for those who refuse to accept God's love and forgiveness.

Will God Send People to Hell?

The Bible speaks about a place of final judgment for those who do not believe in the salvation provided by Jesus Christ. This place is known as hell. It is not a geographical place, but a state of existence. Jesus spoke of it as a place of eternal punishment.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment... (Matthew 25:46).

Final Judgment
In the Book of Revelation the Apostle John wrote concerning a final judgment of the wicked:

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and the books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books... And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12,15).

The reality of a final judgment is clearly taught in Scripture. But the Bible also indicates that the people who go to hell do so because they have rejected God's provision for salvation. The Bible says that God does not want anyone to go to hell:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Thus we conclude by saying:

  1. The Bible teaches the reality of a final place of judgment for the wicked.
  2. Those who spend eternity in hell, do so because they rejected God's love and His provision for salvation.
  3. It is God's desire for everyone to come to Him by faith and receive the salvation that He offers.
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