What will hell be like?

People have all sorts of ideas about what happens when we die.  Tonight me and the family just watched the new film called 'Soul' that Disney Pixar released in time for this Christmas and it's FULL of messages and ideas about life and what it's all about.  People can't help wondering about these things and they come up with all sorts of answers to the biggest questions.  


4 big questions in particular seem to get asked over and over again...

1. How did everything begin?

2. Why are we here?

3. What's the difference between right and wrong?

4. What happens when we die?


When it comes to the fourth question, there are various ideas and answers people have:  

Some people think we just stop existing when we die.  One life and that's it.  So we might as well have a good crack whilst we're here because when it's over it's over.  

Others think we get to come back and live another life on earth.  If we've been good, maybe we'll get a better life next time around.  But if we've not been good, maybe we'll be a bug or something.

And some people think there's heaven and hell (or something like them).  Good people go to heaven to live with God forever and bad people get punished in hell forever.


Christians don't believe ANY of these are true!!  People who trust and follow Jesus know full well that they're not GOOD ENOUGH to live with God forever.  Christians know that they only get to be with God because Jesus died for them and because God has forgiven them and given them his goodness as a GIFT.  Heaven isn't for GOOD PEOPLE (because no-one is good enough) but it's about FORGIVEN PEOPLE SAVED BY JESUS.  We learned about heaven in last week's blog.


Christians who believe the Bible also believe in hell but they might have different ideas about the details of it because the Bible doesn't tell us everything.  Some Christians believe it lasts forever.  Others think it has an end.  Some Christians believe it's a place of literal fire.  Others think it might be even worse than that.  Some Christians think everyone will be saved by Jesus in the end.  Other's think there will be plenty of people with hard hearts who choose to pay for their own sin.


Although Christians have various ideas about the details, the Bible is clear that:

1. Hell is no more and no less than what we each DESERVE (because God is the perfect judge)

2. That it is the WORST POSSIBLE THING to be separated from God.


Is hell really DESERVED?  Here's what the Bible says...

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


WAGES are earned.  GIFTS are not.  In the Bible, dying without God is called WAGES (something we deserve) but living with God forever is called a GIFT (something we do nothing to deserve).

Is hell really THAT BAD?  Again, here's what the Bible says.  Whether it's intended to be taken literally or figuratively, it's still worse than we can imagine...

It's soul and body-destroying:

Matthew 10:28 

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

It's like dying all over again:

Revelation 21:8b

...their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  

It's eternal punishment:

Matthew 25:8

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

It's ultimate destruction:

2 Thessalonians 1:9

They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.

It's worse than we imagine:

Matthew 13:50 

And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  


And in lots of other places the Bible describes how awful a thing it is to be WITHOUT GOD FOREVER, which is basically what hell is.  It's worse than we imagine and it's what we deserve.  Everyone needs forgiveness from God and without his kindness and grace, we're all in serious trouble.  


I for one, am VERY glad that Jesus has come, that he lived the life I could not live, died in my place for my sin, rose from death to give me the hope of a life now and forever with God rather than without him! 


Why should we believe what the Bible says about hell?  Well, my short answer would be: "Because Jesus believed it, taught it and came back from the dead!"  The longer answer is probably best saved for another time but it'll have something to do with the fact that I feel like I could never earn God and that I'm banking on him being as outrageously gracious as Jesus shows and tells me.  Let's grab a coffee and go for a walk if you like. :) 


What do YOU make of the way the Bible describes hell?  What WAGES do you think you deserve from God if he's a Perfect Creator and Judge?  And what undeserved GIFT would you ask God for?


Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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