Hell Part 2: The Necessity Of Hell

(Cross-Posted at Moms In The Right)

Last week's post about God as our Judge describes how I came to peace with the difficult idea of God judging my life someday. It's tough to imagine a judgemental God. I hope that the illustrations in that last STLS post were as helpful to you as they were to me.

If I've come to terms with the idea of God being just, where does that leave me? Where do my thoughts go next? As Christians, it's easy to sweep the whole idea of Hell under the rug by simply saying, "Well, I'm saved. Whew! I'm sure glad Jesus died for me and that I'm saved from Hell!" Indeed, we should be eternally and overwhelmingly grateful. But, friends, there are lots of people who are not saved because they do not accept Jesus as their Savior. What about them?

This is where the conversation gets really tricky. No one wants to think of someone they love going to Hell, but that's exactly where many people will end up. I can't express how heavy my heart is as I type those words! I feel almost panicky at the thought of it. People die every day...where are they headed after this life?

This topic of the reality of Hell is important. It's so important, that Jesus himself spoke of Hell more often than he did of Heaven! So today I'm talking about Hell...why there is a "need" for Hell and what it's like.

Why is Hell necessary? Why not just do away with those who don't "make the cut"?

Before I was a Bible believing Christian, one of the ways I tried to dance around this distasteful idea of an eternal place of torment was to believe that there is simply no need for Hell. I thought that if there must be a separation between God and sin, then the sinner who was not saved could just be wiped from existence. Eternal suffering just seemed too cruel and unusual a punishment to me! Why would God do that? He's God after all...he could just snap his fingers and those who do not "pass the test" could just be *poof* gone! That would be far more merciful than suffering forever.

To explain why this "annihilation" theory does not (can not) hold water, we need not go further than the very first book of the Bible. In Genesis 1:27, we read, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."

What does it mean to be made in God's image? It means that there are ways in which we are just like God. We are creative, we know good from evil, we can love, we have a sense of humor...one of the ways is that we are made to be eternal beings just like God. God designed us to live in perfect fellowship with him forever! Can you see now why he can not simply wipe us from existence? To do so would change our very nature as human beings...as beings lovingly made in God's image...as beings able to fill this particular role in God's creation...as beings who can choose to have a relationship with God (or not).

Okay, so now what?

God is Just, and we can not simply be removed from existence. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with two options, and two options only:

1. Eternity with God = Heaven
2. Eternity without God = Hell

If I've come to God on his terms, then I get option #1.
If I've stubbornly refused him and his ways, then I get option #2.

Now, if you're anything like me, you're asking "What do you mean 'God's terms'?" That's the million dollar question, isn't it!

It's like the case of the woman standing before the judge I told you about last week. She's guilty, she's fined the maximum penalty in the name of justice, but then the judge pays the fine for her (because he turns out to be her dad who loves her very much). That father provided a way for her to avoid suffering in prison.

But what if she had looked at him and said, "No thanks. I'll take care of this one on my own." What could the father do? He couldn't force her to accept his gracious gift. All he could do is watch sadly as she's taken away to prison.

To put it simply, "God's terms" means one thing...Jesus. Jesus is God in the flesh. The reason God humbled himself even to death on a cross is so that he could save us! Think of that for a minute. Let that one sink in. God...the Almighty Creator of the Universe...saw that we were in a mess that is impossible to fix ourselves. Instead of just letting us go on our way and pay the price on our own, he came down here and paid the fine for us (just like the dad in last week's illustration). Now that, my friends, is love! It is also very Good News (aka "The Gospel").

Can you believe that? Literally and figuratively and wholly...believe that? Then please acknowledge your belief before God. A simple, "Oh God, I'm a sinner and I can't fix it! I accept what you've done for me. I accept that you've paid my penalty for me. Thank you so much! Please come and live in my heart. Show me how you want me to live & help me to turn away from the sin in my life." If you can say those words with true belief and humility in your heart...that's IT! That's coming to God on His terms, and let me tell you - it's life-changing.

Isn't it interesting how God works? I sat down a week ago to write a quick STLS post about what Hell is like (based on an interesting book I just "happened" to pick up at the store). As I wrote, I realized that God's justice had to be addressed first. So I sat down THIS week to write about what Hell is like....only to write about why Hell is even necessary.

I'd still like to write a bit about the nature of Hell....do I dare say I'll do it next week? How about this: I'll sit down to write next week...and by God's grace, I'll write whatever He puts on my heart :)

In the mean time, please think about your options for eternity. What do you say? Are going going to go at it on your own, or will you give God's grace a try?

He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
- Acts 16:30-32

Seek The Lord Sunday Participants

1. Vanessa ~ Fear None of Those Things

2. Ruth A. Stiles

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Elyse  – (1/20/2009 09:28:00 AM)  

Wonderful! Thank you so much for this. It's often hard to explain these issues or even understand them. You very clearly laid it out here and it was very helpful! God bless you!

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