A few weeks ago in this column we looked at heaven and our possible role in it. Now let us look at heaven’s opposite; hell. There shouldn’t be too much debate about what the populace of hell has been, is currently, and shall be experiencing. Several references in Matthew (22:13 & 25:30) say there is ‘‘weeping and gnashing of teeth.’’ Matthew also calls it a place of everlasting fire and punishment. (25:41, 46) Ask almost anyone and they would probably give you a definition of hell that would include one of the previous descriptions, but ask them if they believe there is a hell and you’ll find that many do not and their disbelief takes many forms.
There are those who don’t think there is anything after death, no hell or heaven, just nothing. In other words they deny that there even is a God. Some believe that if God is love, which He is, then He wouldn’t send basically good people to hell, a place a loving God wouldn’t have created anyway. You could say they were unconvinced that they were candidates for hell for they trusted in their own goodness. Isaiah 64:6 exposes that as a false hope. I have heard of some who believe hell is now, the time we are living in our human flesh upon the earth. Although there are sorrows to endure and trials that make life difficult, there are also many joys involving family and friends that would not be possible were we living in a “hell on earth.” There are even Christians who doubt the physical existence of hell and say it was just a scare tactic to persuade people to turn to God and get “fire insurance.” Another disparagement of the existence of hell finds it’s voice in the question, “If I die and leave my body behind, how can my spirit, without any substance, feel punishment?” It would be interesting to note here that someone who has had a limb amputated, frequently claims they can still feel their fingers or toes though they are no longer there. Additionally, Paul in I Cor 15:44 says we have a natural body that is changed into an incorruptible spiritual body after death.
For the Christian, the biggest reason to believe there is a hell and how it’s described is the fact that Jesus said so. Jesus also said this; “Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and it’s gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose it’s easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.” (Matt 7:13-14 -Living Bible) It is sad to say, as Jonathan Edwards once preached, that many a soul has awakened to find themselves in hell and has cried out that it was never their intention to be there. I believe you have been given by God the free will to choose, but be advised that the end result is a one or the other; it is heaven or it is hell. If you died tonight, do you know where you would be?