I grew up in a church tradition that really emphasized hell as a motivation for accepting Christ’s forgiveness of our sins. In fact, my own salvation decision as a young child was highly motivated by this. I no longer see overemphasis on hell (often an exclusive emphasis) as biblical or effective in bringing true heart change in people. I think it typically brings a self-centered mental transaction rather than a love-centered relationship with Jesus. But that’s not what this blog post is about.
I also wrestled for quite some time a few years ago with the idea of if hell existed at all. It seemed contrary to God’s nature to have a hell where people were tortured forever. Many like Rob Bell have gotten a lot of press for publicly coming out with an idea similar to this, showing “biblical” claims that an eternal hell does not in fact exist, or at least (in Bell’s case) that nobody is really going to go there. I really wanted to believe this and I dug into Scripture to prove this point. I did find some helpful new information from Scripture about hell and saw that there was more ambiguity to what hell is like than I had been taught in my faith upbringing. But one thing I could not do is show biblically that an eternal hell does not exist, nor could I show that people simply cease to exist when they go to hell (a view called annihilationism, which is quite compelling and indeed has more Scripture than you’d think that points to this). There were two passages in specific that I could not get around: Revelation 14:10-13 & Luke 16:19-31. An eternal hell exists and people are going there. But that is not what this blog post is about either.
Nor is the blog post about how you should witness to your friends more because they are going to hell without Jesus, though they are and you should.
What this post is about is Continue Reading…