We still believe in a literal hell. Hell–a place of everlasting punishment with eternal, burning flame. Although it isn’t fashionable to believe such in our “enlightened” age, we still do. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists have robbed hell of its eternal aspects through their concepts of annihilation. The Mormons have reduced it to paradise without the presence of Christ. And modern sectarian preachers like Rob Bell have dispensed with it altogether.
No matter. Hell exists and burns still.
Hell is an uncomfortable thought. But it is truth. Can one merely cover his eyes like a child and suppose that in so doing he can lightly dispense with a place of such eternal consequence? Wishing there were no hell does not change the fact that it is there. Being unable to reconcile one’s view of God with such a place of torment makes no difference. No, when so much is at stake, it is better for us to know and deal with the facts and not try to deceive ourselves.
We believe in a real hell because God says there is one. His Word abounds with references and warnings regarding it. Heaven and earth may pass away, but His Word concerning hell remains firmer than bedrock.
People say that God does not send anyone to hell, but that they send themselves by choosing to do evil. While it is true in that God gives people a choice where they will spend eternity and offers salvation to ensure that they won’t die lost, for those who refuse this great salvation, He will cast them into hell (Matt. 10:28). We are dealing with the goodness and severity of God. We must not deny the latter by taking the former out of context. God is an eternal Being, infinitely more just and holy than our minds can comprehend. Though He doesn’t delight in the destruction of sinners, His righteous justice demands that sin and all connected thereto be punished. If sin is in the soul, the soul deserves punishment. The soul that sins shall die (Ezk. 18:4).
The devil believes in a literal hell. In this, he proves himself superior in knowledge to modern, effeminate theologians who deny hell’s literal existence. The devil believed in hell in Eden, and he believes in hell today. He believes in it, because he knows it is a place specifically prepared for him and his angels (Matt. 25:41). Unlike men who hate to face the truth, the devil and his demons know there is a place and a time appointed for their torment (Matt. 8:29). It is the deceitful craft of Satan to have his angels (2 Cor. 11:14-15) in hundreds of pulpits every Sunday telling the people that God is all love and hell is not a literal place.
We believe in a literal hell because our earthly concepts of justice are predicated upon just such a belief. It is the concept of just punishment revealed in the eternal Word of God, His revelation of hell, that lends credence and meaning to the legal concepts of individual responsibility, reward and punishment. If there is no literal hell, then human attempts to achieve justice are all vain. Laws designed to preserve and protect the rights of people the world over would have no substantive basis. If hell is not real, then the claims of anarchists are true and the carelessness and laxity of fatalists is virtue.
Finally, we believe in a literal hell because the Son of God suffered to save humankind from perishing there (John 3:16). If hell is not real, then the cross is a myth and the atonement of Christ a fable. If there is not a literal hell, Christianity is a bold-faced farce.
But hell is real, and people are going there by the millions.
O God, help us to reach them with the truth of thy holy Word!
We still believe in a literal hell.
Bro. Daniel Eichelberger