Concerning hell, C. S. Lewis once wrote,
“There is no doctrine which I would more
willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.”
C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”
Robert Peterson in his book “Two Views of Hell” cited Saint Augustine saying ”he cautions us against following the example of those who, ‘while not slighting the authority of the sacred Scriptures, nevertheless, interpret them wrongly and suppose that what is to happen will not be what the Scriptures speak of, but what they themselves would like to happen”
7 statements to help us more clearly understand hell…maybe.
Hell is what hell is because God is who God is.
And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name The Lord. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But, he said, you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.Exodus 33:19-20
And I said: Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King the Lord of hosts!Isaiah 6:5
Jesus spoke about hell more than anyone else in Scripture.
Jesus doesn’t only reference hell, he describes it in great detail.
- He says it is a place of eternal torment (Luke 16:23),
- of unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43),
- where the worm does not die (Mark 9:48),
- where people will gnash their teeth in anguish and regret (Matt. 13:42),
- from which there is no return, even to warn loved ones (Luke 16:19–31).
- a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30),
- comparing it to “Gehenna” (Matt. 10:28),
Bertrand Russell, said in his book, What I’m not a Christian, that Jesus’ teaching on hell was “the one profound defect in Christ’s character.” If we want to avoid the idea of hell, we can’t ignore the problem by just focusing on “meek and mild Jesus.”
The reality of hell shows us the extent of God’s love in saving us.
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Matthew 27:46
People are eternal.
At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.Daniel 12:1-2
“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be either true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live forever. Perhaps my bad temper or my jealousy are gradually getting worse—so gradually that the increase in seventy years will not be very noticeable. But it might be absolute hell in a million years: in fact, if Christianity is true, Hell is the precisely correct technical term for what it would be.”
C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”
“Hell . . . begins with a grumbling mood, and yourself still distinct from it: perhaps criticizing it. . . . Ye can repent and come out of it again. But there may come a day when you can do that no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood, nor
even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself going on forever like a machine.”
C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce”
In one sense, God doesn’t send anyone to hell; we send ourselves.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.1 John 1:5
“In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ . . . To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does. . . . In the end, there are only two kinds of people– those who say to God “thy will be done” and those to whom God says in the end ‘thy will be done.’”
C.S. Lewis, “The Problem of Pain”
In another sense, God does send people to hell; and all his ways are true and righteous altogether.
19 You will say to me then, Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will? 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, Why have you made me like this? 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?Romans 9:19-21
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me, are righteousness and strength; to him shall come and be ashamed all who were incensed against him.Isaiah 45:24
It’s not enough for God to take us out of hell; he must take hell out of us.
There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us. 27 And he said, Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 But Abraham said, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent. 31 He said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.Luke 16:19-31
If you don’t love the Father, then living in the Father’s house feels like slavery.
The Good News is for Sharing by Leighton Ford. Many things we don’t know about hell. But Jesus and the New Testament writers used every image in their power to tell us that hell is real, it’s terrible, it’s something to be feared, and something to avoid. In his description of the last judgment, Jesus taught that some would go to eternal punishment, some to eternal life (Matt. 25:46). In other words, hell will be as real and as lasting as heaven.
The horror of hell is not physical pain. After all, the Bible tells us hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), and they’re not physical beings. Rather the fire and outer darkness and the thirst depict spiritual separation from God, moral remorse, the consciousness that one deserves what he’s getting.
Hell is disintegration — the eternal loss of being a real person. In hell, the mathematician who lived for his science can’t add two and two. The concert pianist who worshiped himself through his art can’t play a simple scale. The man who lived for sex goes on in eternal lust, with nobody to exploit. The woman who made a god out of fashion has a thousand dresses but no mirror! Hell is eternal desire — eternally unfulfilled.