People sometimes say to me, ‘I can’t believe in a God who sends people to hell.’ And I reply, ‘God doesn’t send people to hell. People make that choice for themselves. There is only one way to hell and that is to reject the only way to heaven.’
Down in that place called Hades, Satan summoned his three chief demons to a debate on how to win as many souls as possible for the Kingdom of Hell. After much discussion, one of the demons came up with an idea. “I know,” he said. “How about I disguise myself as a mortal and go to earth proclaiming that there is no such thing as God or the Devil or Heaven or Hell? I’ll tell everyone that there is no inherent good or evil and the only thing that matters is self-gratification. That way, alcohol, drugs, gambling, promiscuity, debauchery and the like will no longer be taboo. I predict that I’ll be able to secure the souls of up to half of the world’s population!”
Satan thought this was a wonderful idea and was just about to give it his approval when the second demon interjected. “I have an even better idea,” he said. “I’ll disguise myself as a mortal and go to earth, but I’ll proclaim that there is a God and a Devil and there is place called Heaven and a place called Hell, so everyone had better go to church every Sunday or else!” He then went on to say, “But then I’ll tell everyone that, as long as they go to church on a Sunday, the rest of the week they can literally do whatever they like. That way, I reckon I could get the souls of three-quarters of the world’s population down to Hell.”
Satan was delighted, and rubbed his hands together with glee, but then the third demon piped up. “I have the best idea of all, and an idea that could get everyone on earth down to Hell.” The whole of Hades fell silent as Satan nodded, beckoning the third demon to continue. “I’ll disguise myself as a mortal and go to earth and I, too, will proclaim that there is a God and a Devil and there is place called Heaven and a place called Hell. I’ll tell everyone that they must live clean and honest lives and follow the teachings of the Bible… But then I’ll also tell everyone that there’s absolutely no rush so they can take all the time in the world to think it over!”
And the moral of the tale is this: those who sit on the fence can end up having hell to pay for it!
R. Ian Seymour (adapted from Maximize Your Potential)
One Bible student has counted 162 references in the New Testament which warn people of hell – 70 of these were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is because God loves us so much that He warns us about hell so much. Whether we heed God’s warning or not is down to us.
Ask yourself this question: ‘If hell is not a reality then what did Jesus come to save us from; why did Jesus bother coming at all? ‘I have not come to call the righteous but sinners,’ said Jesus. If sinners don’t really need rescuing, then why the rescue mission?’
Rico Tice, Christianity Explored, p.28
I read about a couple from Chicago who decided to go to Florida for a long weekend to thaw out during one particularly icy cold winter. They both had jobs, and had difficulty coordinating their travel schedules, so it was decided the husband would fly to Florida on a Thursday, and his wife would follow him the next day. Upon arriving as planned, the husband checked into the hotel. Then he opened his laptop and sent his wife an email back in Chicago. However, he accidentally left off one letter in her address and sent the email without noticing his error.
Meanwhile, in Houston, another woman, a widow had just returned from her husband’s funeral. He was a minister of many years who had been “called home to glory” following a heart attack. The widow checked her email, expecting messages of condolences from family and friends, but upon reading the first message, she fainted and fell to the floor. The widow’s son rushed into the room; found his mother on the floor and saw the message on the computer screen which read:
To: My loving Wife From: Your Husband Subject: I’ve arrived! (The text read…)
I’ve just arrived and have been checked in. Everything is prepared and ready for your own arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then. – P.S. Sure is hot down here!
Many people think of God as cruel that he should send people to hell. But they forget that hell is just what those people have chosen for themselves. They spend their whole lives wanting nothing to do with God and end up having hell to pay for it because they will be without God forever, just as they wanted. Everyone has freedom of choice, but no one has freedom from the consequences of their choice, and it is illegitimate to claim we are not against God if we ignore him. That’s the main message of the Bible but God has provided a rescue package for all who will accept it. That’s why Jesus came. – If we didn’t need rescuing why the rescue mission? If we didn’t need saving there would be no need for a saviour!
Billy Graham, never one for mincing his words, said: “There is more talk about hell from the world than there is from the church pulpit. Even though science has tried to disprove the Bible, it has substantiated that at the centre of the earth lies a molten, volcanic domain. This very well could be the place Jesus called the “lake of fire” in Revelation 19 and 20. It has been said that the devil’s greatest work is to convince people that Hell doesn’t exist. Some fool themselves by saying, “If there is a Hell, it will be a devil of a party.” Others say, “No devil, no sin; no sin, no guilt; no guilt, no need to repent; no repentance, no need for God.” But the Bible says the Gospel is “veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Popularizing Hell in today’s culture has turned it into a fashionable destination. This is the depravity of the human soul, terrorizing self with evil and growing accustomed to hellish entertainment branded by the world’s system and lifestyle as fun. In an effort to diminish fear of eternal damnation, mankind has concocted an antidote: become so familiar with Hell that it no longer provokes anxiety – or joke about Hell in hopes the laughter will snuff out the searing fire that brings oppression. Satan is well acquainted with the world of television and uses it powerfully to deceive.”
Billy Graham, The Reason For My Hope, pp131, 134, 136, 137 and 142
You are free to choose whatever you surrender to, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.
Source: The UCB Word For Today, 27/8/2003
C. S. Lewis once saw this epitaph on a tombstone: “Here lies an atheist, all dressed up but with nowhere to go.” Lewis added his own comment, “I bet he wishes that were so.”
Source: Simon Guillbaud, For What It’s Worth, 2006, Oxford: Monarch Books, p.127
God doesn’t want to send anyone to hell. People make that choice for themselves. Bill Hybels says, “God honours the choices we make on this earth. He would never force people who rejected Him during their earthly seasons to spend eternity with Him in the next. Their decision toward God will stand.” Similarly, C.S. Lewis in his book, The Great Divorce, says: “There are only two kinds of people in the end; those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’. All that are in hell choose it.”
[Note: Source: cited by Vaughan Roberts, Turning Points, Authentic Lifestyle, Cumbria (2003), p.136.] In other words, ‘Far from God sending people to hell, they seem to be sending themselves. After all, it would be unreasonable to blame the doctor for my ill health if I refuse to take the medicine he prescribed… God does not want anyone to go to hell (see 1 Timothy 2v4, 2 Peter 3v9b), so he has prepared a way for the human race to escape its horrors. He is in the business of getting people into heaven, not sending them to hell!’
[Note: Stephen Gaukroger, It Makes Sense, p.95-96]
Bill Hybels, Simplify, 2014, London: Hodder & Stoughton, p.252.
For many, the devil and hell have been filed away as make believe, in the same way as fairies, giants and ogres! The problem, in part, is because of a false image of what the devil is like. If the devil, who’s other name is Satan, turned up in a red jump suit with stick on horns and a pitch fork, we’d spot him a mile off and we wouldn’t listen to a word he says. But Satan is far too cunning for that; he is way too clever to take that approach. Instead he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) but behind the disguise he is really the master of deceit and false teaching who wants us to think he doesn’t exist because he wants to lead people astray.
(Inadvertent error in a church bulletin): At the service tonight the sermon topic is “What is Hell?” Come early and listen to choir practice.
Jesus never threatened people, but he did warn them. There is a big difference between a threat and a warning: we threaten people we don’t like; we warn people we love.
Nicky Gumbel, The Jesus Lifestyle, 2010, London: Alpha International, p.217
Francis Chan poses this challenge to his readers: ‘Can you accept all of God’s incomprehensible truths, even the ones you don’t like?’ He continues… ‘Sending people to hell isn’t the only thing God does that is impossible to figure out. The Bible is bursting with divine acts that don’t make a lot of sense to us.
The flood of Genesis 6-8. He decides to save some animals and 8 of His people—and then He drowns the rest. When Moses comes down from the mountain in Exodus 32:27 and the Israelites are worshipping a golden calf. God commands the Levites to whet their swords and run through the camp and slaughter their brothers and friends and neighbours. Three thousand people died that day, and the Levites were blessed for their obedience. In Deuteronomy 20:16-18 God commands the Israelites to slaughter all the inhabitants of Canaan, men, women, and children. The fact is Scripture is filled with divine actions that don’t fit our human standards of logic or morality. But they don’t need to, because we are the clay and He is the Potter. We need to stop trying to domesticate God and confine Him to tidy categories and compartments that reflect our human sentiments rather than His inexplicable ways.
We serve a God whose ways are incomprehensible, whose thoughts are not like our thoughts. Ultimately, thoughts of God should lead to joy, because those same thoughts designed the cross—the place where righteousness and wrath kiss. Would you have thought to rescue sinful people from their sins by sending your Son to take on human flesh? Would you have thought to enter creation through the womb of a young Jewish woman and be born in a feeding trough? Would you have thought to allow your created beings to torture your Son, lacerate His flesh with whips, and then drive nails through His hands and feet? I’m almost sure I would not have done that if I were God. It’s incredibly arrogant to pick and choose which incomprehensible truths we embrace. No one wants to ditch God’s plan of redemption, even though it doesn’t make sense to us. Neither should we erase God’s revealed plan of punishment because it doesn’t sit well with us. As soon as we do this, we are putting God’s actions in submission to our own reasoning, which is a ridiculous thing for clay to do.
Francis Chan, Erasing Hell, devotional on YouVersion, day 7 of 7
One author writes: “To each of his disciples, Jesus simply said, “Follow me.” That was an invitation, not a requirement. An invitation respects the freedom on the invitee to accept of decline. That men and women can go to heaven is an expression of God’s love; that they can go to hell is an expression of the value he places on their freedom. God desires, not requires, a relationship with us. It is not a one-sided affair; we are co-participants with him, both in our relationship with him and in our work in the world. God does not pull all the strings. He counts us too important to do that. To find without seeking, to hear without listening, to say yes without the possibility of saying no is to negate the value of my seeking, my hearing and my participating. God did not make us to be puppets.”
John Fischer, quoted in Men’s Devotional Bible p.1091
Stephen Gaukroger writes: ‘The burning flames of hell mentioned in the Bible may be picture language, but the reality that they represent is no figment of the imagination.’
Stephen Gaukroger, It Makes Sense, p.95
All of us would like to believe there is no such place as hell, but it’s noteworthy that the One who had most to say about hell in the Scriptures is none other than the Son of God, who is love incarnate.
J. Oswald Sanders
J. Oswald Sanders, Effective Evangelism, 1982, OM Literature, Waynesboro, GA, USA, p.60
Some would say that because God loves people, and because it is God’s desire that none should perish; because God is love; that people won’t go to hell. That is the popular reasoning of the day we live in. It is true that hell was created for the devil and his demons, and not for people (Matthew 25v41). But Jesus talks a lot about hell, outer darkness, weeping and gnashing of teeth. It takes a lot of work to make the Bible say that there is no hell for people and even more work to say everyone goes to Heaven. This concept of Universalism is from hell itself, as it strips the Church of any sense of urgency and accountability for embracing the Great Commission. If Universalism were true, there would be little need for the bulk of Scripture, as it would become pointless in a world where all roads lead to the same place.
Bill Johnson, God is Good, 2016, USE: Destiny Image Publishers, p.106