What is our concept of Hell? We know about it, speak and preach about it, but how much do we know? What can be gleaned from Scripture about this topic that might help us as we study the Bible, evangelize, and attempt to live Victorious lives?
The basic idea is certain: Hell is a place in the afterlife where bad people are punished. For some, this is simply an analogy. For others, it is an outdated concept that was developed to keep people “in line” and from questioning authority. I have even seen statistics that show that up to 66% of Southern Baptists do not believe in a literal place called Hell, while the overall population tags it around 79% not believing.
Now some of us do believe in that literal Hell. 33.9% I guess. And I make no contention about the fact that I do, and will assume those of you reading do also. I will not make any reference that attempts to prove the existence of this place, aside from the fact that I believe the Bible is a factual representation of God's message to mankind. The Bibe is not man’s searching for God, but God's revealing of Himself to man. And with that I take its contents to be true, literal, and without error.
The Bible makes, in both Old and New Testaments, references to a life after this one. Without any ambiguity, the Bible also commits to the idea that there are two, and only two, destinations after this life. Man will spend eternity with God, or separated from Him. Men will reside in a Paradise or in a Prison, a Heaven or a Hell, in Abraham’s Bosom or in the Lake of Fire. However; the Bible does give several names to this place (or places) for punishment of wicked souls. In the Old Testament we have Sheol, and in the New, Gehenna, Hades, Hell, Tartarus, and the Lake of Fire. So are these one place, or are there four? As we will see in future installments, we will argue that there are actually two places, one called Hades and one called the Lake of Fire, and that both are colloquially given the name Hell by the current culture.
But all of this, dear readers, leads us to the big question, right? Why should we care? I mean, let’s just avoid both of them. Because, less than .5% of people say they think they are going to Hell when they die. In case you missed the period, that is less than one half of one percent. The Bible makes it very, very clear. Without the hope of Christ, your eternal destiny lies in a prison of despair and torment. Called it by whatever name you wish…the fact remains…it is forever. If we know, and I trust that you all do, Jesus as Savior, then we must understand the consequences of sitting life on the sidelines. We must tell the Gospel story, the Good News, that God offers us a way of escape. If you have not accepted Jesus as Lord and Master of your life, won’t you do it before it is everlasting too late?
Our next installment will be defining Hell as a place of eternal punishment, and how that does not contradict God as a God of Love.