Is Hell A Real Place?Written by Stephen Kingery
Is Hell a real place, or is it just a symbolic representation of a place where bad people should go? Does it really exist, or is Bible trying to give us some insight into torment that non-believers have in their final days of existence on earth? Or is it just fantasy put in Bible to persuade people to believe in God? I once heard a preacher say, "You can believe whatever you want to about whether hell is real or not, but it does not change fact that it is a real place of torment for non-believers." Let's take a look at what Bible has to say about hell.
By examining scriptures, we can learn a great deal about place we call hell. We see that there is going to be everlasting destruction. "...in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and those who do not obey gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from presence of Lord and from glory of His power,..." (II Thessalonians 1:8,9) We see in this passage a glimpse of hell. It is for those "who do not know God, and those who do not obey gospel." In other word for those people who fit two categories: (1) those who do not know or believe in God, who voluntarily choose not to, and (2) those who profess to believe but by their actions and way they live their lives, do not follow or obey gospel.
There are millions of people who have heard gospel message, some I am sure dozens of times, and reject God and His Son. They do not give their lives to Christ, choosing rather to go their own way or perhaps way of world. According to this passage, these people will spend eternity in hell.
I am convinced there is also a large number of people who claim to be Christian and simply go through motions, never really obeying gospel or following teachings of New Testament. Their lives and hearts were not changed. These too shall spend eternity away from God.
So what is hell? The above passage again gives us a glimpse into this. "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from presence of Lord..." The fate of those we are speaking of is to be banned eternally from being near God, or to be out of His presence. What is being "destroyed" in passage is ability or opportunity to be in presence of or near God. Death, by spiritual definition, is separation. The first death is when our spirit is separated from our bodies. The second death will be when a person's spirit is eternally separated from God.
I think we can see from above passage that hell is a real place. We can also see that it is for certain that it will exist. In book of Mark we see another glimpse of hell as a terrible place. "And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into fire that shall never be quenched -- where 'their worm does not die and fire is not quenched.'" (Mark 9:43,44) The last part of this passage, "their worm does not die and fire is not quenched,"is quoted from Isaiah 66:24. It simply tells us that though physical body is dead, spirit is still in existence. The spirit of those going to hell will be an existence as of a worm, or as Isaiah put it, "They shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (Isaiah 66:24) If we "in flesh" could actually see exactly what hell is like we would truly be horrified. It is a terrible place of eternal existence for those who do not know God and those who will not obey whole gospel.
Not only is hell a terrible place, but it is also a place of eternal existence. "Then He will also say to those on left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for devil and his angels,...'" (Matthew 25:41) "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but righteous into everlasting life." (Matthew 25:46) The judgement, once pronounced, will be final, irreversible, and unending. For those of us that are obeying gospel of Jesus Christ thought of eternal life with God and Jesus is joyous. However, just thought of eternal existence in hell makes me shutter. I cannot imagine -- and I don't want to -- what it would be like to spend eternity in a place where I could not praise and worship my Heavenly Father. That alone, for me, would be terrible.
It is difficult for us to conceptualize what eternity will be like. Everything which we experience here on earth is limited by time. We tend to think of a lifetime as a very long period. In reality, in frame-work of eternity, a lifetime is but a twinkle of an eye. It is but a fraction of a second in comparison. I like way song Amazing Grace phrases it, "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we first begun." How glorious that will be for us, and how terrible it will be for those in hell.
Specifically, who will be in hell? The Bible tells us exactly who will be in this place of eternal torment. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face earth and heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is Book of Life. And dead were judged according to their works, by things which were written in books. The sea gave up dead which were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into lake of fire. This is second death. And anyone not found written in Book of Life was cast into lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15) This is a long passage, but it shows clearly that everyone will go through judgement. Those whose name is found written in Book of Life will be entering into eternal life with God. Those whose name is not found in Book of Life will be cast into lake of fire, or hell. In other words, to put it in simple terms, all who are not saved by grace of God through blood of Jesus Christ shall spend eternity in hell.
"If You Love Me, You'll Keep My Commandments"Written by Stephen Kingery
How do we know that God and His Son loves us? It is quite simple. Just read Bible and you will see that it is, in many respects, a love letter to His creation - man. We see that Bible is brimming with indications of love from God and Jesus Christ. Have you ever had a prayer answered? I have, and many times in an awesome way. Have you ever been delivered from what seemed like eminent danger. Again, I have on several occasions. These are also indications of God's love.
But how does God and Jesus know that we love Them? Jesus told us how, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) In this article I would like to share with you many of commandments of Jesus, some that I feel, if we keep them, will show our love for Him. Now I don't mean this in legalistic since, that you must do each of these or your soul is forever damned. But in spiritual since, that by keeping these, it is an act of love for God and His Son. Nor do I mean them in since that we must do these things in order to "guarantee" salvation. We are not talking about salvation in this article, we are talking about showing our love for God.
"... Repent, for kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17) Being human, it is impossible to live a life free of sin. Even after we give our lives over to Jesus, all too often sin creeps in. Sin wreaks marriages and destroys lives. But Bible tells us that if we will repent and ask for forgiveness of our sins, God is faithful to forgive us. Our daily prayers should include asking God for forgiveness for those areas in our lives where we fall short of glory of kingdom of God. I'm afraid that many Christians have attitude that they have been forgiven for "big sins," and they don't really do anything "all that bad," so they don't really need to ask God for forgiveness. I disagree! It's those "little things" that we do, that we shrug off as nothing, that begin to pile up in our conscience and begin to eat away at our relationship with God. Then, before we realize it, a "big" temptation comes along and devil catches us off guard and unprepared to resist. The Bible also teaches us that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. However, to resist or not resist is still up to us. If we allow sin to creep into our lives, and continually fail to ask God's forgiveness, then when that "big" temptation comes along, we haven't prepared ourselves to resist. By repenting each day for our shortcomings, we show God that we want to remain close to Him, and that we love Him.
"Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Matthew 5:16) As you read above scripture, don't get hung-up on "your good works." The real emphasis here is on "glorify your Father in Heaven." We must realize that without God, most (if not all) of what we are able to accomplish as Christians for kingdom is impossible. But, we should strive to do those "good works" so that we can bring glory to our Heavenly Father. As we go about our lives seeking ways to help others in need, serving Lord through our local congregations, and witnessing to lost, we are bringing glory to God. People come to realize that we are doing these good works because we love God, and this brings Him glory.
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." (Matthew 5:44) Probably one of most difficult commands for us to follow, is to love our enemies. However, this is so important. The Bible goes on in this passage (see verses 46-48) and explains that if we love those who love us, we have really accomplished nothing. Even non-Christians do this. It is easy to love those who love us, but we really show our Christian fiber when we can suppress natural inclination to hate our enemies and love and pray for them. By doing this, we put God first instead of ourselves and this shows our love for Him.
"But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly." (Matthew 6:6) Our prayer life is so important. It is through prayer that we tell our Heavenly Father all those things that we only want Him to hear. Please remember, God already knows everything about us. We can't keep secrets from Him. There are things in our lives that we can't talk about even with our closest friend, but we can talk to God about them. If we share all our troubles, joys, victories, fears, (in short everything) with God, we will begin to experience a wonderful love and closeness to Him. God wants us to be free to carry everything to Him in prayer.
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:20) There are many stories around that talk about what heaven will be like. The Bible even refers to mansions, walls of jasper and streets of gold. But I don't think this is what Jesus is referring to in this passage. I think above descriptions are in Bible to give us understanding that Heaven will be a beautiful place, not that we will own (or even want to) gold, jasper, and like.
Let us consider for a moment what a treasure is and why we want them. Think back for a moment about all stories you've ever heard about treasures. What are some characteristics of treasures? We don't necessarily know what is in treasure. We do know that to be a treasure, it has to be "fantastic." We know that we would like to have, whatever it is, very much. We could go on, but I think you get picture. The main point is that a treasure is something that we "set our heart on." To us, it is something that we really want. It is something that we think about, hope for, dream about, talk about, and plan how we will use it. In other words, it consumes us entirely.