"Is Heaven Real?"                                                                                                                           

Heaven is indeed a real place. The Bible tells us that heaven is God’s throne (Isaiah 66:1, Acts 7:48-49, Matthew 5:34-35). After Jesus’ resurrection and appearance on earth to His disciples, “He was taken up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19, Acts 7:55-56). “Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence“ (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus not only went before us, entering on our behalf, but He is alive and has a present ministry in heaven, serving as our high priest in the true tabernacle made by God (Hebrews 6:19-20, 8:1-2).

We are also told by Jesus Himself that there are many rooms in God’s house and that he Has gone before us to prepare a place for us. We have the assurance of His word that he will one day come back to earth and take us to where He is in heaven (John 14:1-4). Our belief in an eternal home in heaven is based on an explicit promise of Jesus. Heaven is most definitely a real place. Heaven truly does exist.

When people deny the existence of heaven, they deny not only the written Word of God, they also deny the innermost longings of their own hearts. Paul addressed this very issue to the Corinthians, encouraging them to cling to the hope of heaven so that they would not lose heart: “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4 NLT). He urged them to look forward to their eternal home in heaven, a perspective that would enable them to endure hardships and disappointments in this life. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Just as God has put in men’s hearts the knowledge that He exists (Romans 1:19-20), so too are we “programmed” to desire heaven. It is the theme of countless books, music and works of art. Unfortunately, our sin has barred the way to heaven. Since heaven is the abode of a holy and perfect God, sin has no place there, nor can it be tolerated. Fortunately, God has provided for us the key to open the doors of heaven—Jesus Christ. All who believe in Him and seek forgiveness for sin will find the doors of heaven swung wide for them. “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart full of assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:19-22).

"What is Heaven like?"

Heaven is a real place described in the Bible. The word heaven is found 276 times in the New Testament alone. Scripture refers to three heavens. The Apostle Paul was “caught up to the third heaven," but he was prohibited from revealing what he experienced there (2 Corinthians 12:1-9).

If a third heaven exists, there must also be two other heavens. The first is most frequently referred to in the Old Testament as the "sky" or the "firmament," which appears as an arch that is spread over our earth. This is the heaven that contains clouds, the area that birds fly through. The second heaven is the interstellar space, which is the abode of supernatural angelic beings and celestial objects (Genesis 1:14-18).

The third heaven, whose location is unrevealed, is the abode of the Triune God. God's plan is to fill heaven with believers in Jesus Christ. No wonder the word heaven is interchangeable with eternal life! Jesus promised to prepare a place for true Christians in heaven (John 14:2). Heaven is also the destination of Old Testament saints who died trusting God's promise of the Redeemer (Ephesians 4:8). Whoever believes in Christ shall never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The Apostle John was privileged to see and report on the heavenly city (Revelation 21:10-27). John witnessed that heaven possesses the "glory of God" (Revelation 21:11). This is the Shekinah glory or the presence of God. Because heaven has no night and the Lord is the light, the sun and moon are no longer needed (Revelation 22:5).

The city is filled with the brilliance of costly stones and crystal clear jasper. Heaven has 12 gates (Revelation 21:12) and 12 foundations (Revelation 21:14). The paradise of the Garden of Eden is restored: the river of the water of life flows freely and the tree of life is available once again, yielding fruit monthly with leaves that "heal the nations" (Revelation 22:1-2). However eloquent John was in his description of heaven, the reality of heaven is beyond the ability of finite man to describe (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yet it is more real than this earth, which will pass away.

Heaven is a place of "no mores." There will be no more tears, no more pain, and no more sorrow (Revelation 21:4). There will be no more separation because death will be conquered (Revelation 20:6). The best thing about heaven is the presence of our Lord and Savior. We will be face to face with the Lamb of God Who loved us and sacrificed Himself so that we can enjoy His presence for eternity.

"Will there be marriage in heaven?"

The Bible tells us, “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). This was Jesus’ answer in response to a question concerning a woman who had been married multiple times in her life – who would she be married to in heaven (Matthew 22:23-28)? Evidently, there will be no such thing as marriage in heaven. This does not mean that a husband and wife will not longer know each other in heaven. This also does not mean that a husband and wife could not still have a close relationship in heaven. What it does seem to indicate, though, is that a husband and wife will no longer be married in heaven. There is likely no purpose for marriage in heaven since there is no procreation or loneliness.

"Is hell real? Is hell eternal?"

Is hell real? Studies show that over 90% of people in the world believe in a "heaven" while less than 50% believe in an eternal hell. According to the Bible, hell is most definitely real! The punishment of the wicked in hell is as never-ending as the bliss of the righteous in Heaven. The punishment of the wicked dead in hell is described throughout Scripture as "everlasting fire" (Matthew 25:41), "unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12), "shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2), a place where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44-49), a place of "torments" and "flame" (Luke 16:23,24), "everlasting destruction" (2 Thessalonians 1:9), a place of torment with "fire and brimstone" where "the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever" (Revelation 14:10,11), and a "lake of fire and brimstone" where the wicked are "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Jesus Himself indicates that the punishment in hell itself is everlasting - not merely the smoke and flames (Matthew 25:46).

The wicked are forever subject to the fury and the wrath of God in hell. They consciously suffer shame and contempt and the assaults of an accusing conscience -- along with the fiery wrath of an offended deity -- for all of eternity. Even those in hell will acknowledge the perfect justice of God (Psalms 76:10). Those who are in the very real hell will know that their punishment is just and that they alone are to blame (Deuteronomy 32:3-5). Yes, hell is real. Yes, hell is a place of torment and punishment that lasts forever and ever, with no end! Praise God that through Jesus, we can escape this eternal fate (John 3:16,18,36).

"What does the Bible say about Purgatory?"

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.” To summarize, in Catholic theology, Purgatory is a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. Is this doctrine of Purgatory in agreement with the Bible? Absolutely not!

Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “but He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient. To say that we must atone for our sins by cleansing in Purgatory is to deny the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus (1 John 2:2). The idea that we have to suffer for our sins after death is contrary to everything the Bible says about salvation.

The primary Scriptural passage Catholics point to for evidence of Purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says, “If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” The passage (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) is using an illustration of things going through fire as a description of believers’ works being judged. If our works are of good quality “gold, sliver, costly stones,” they will pass through the fire unharmed, and we will be rewarded for them. If our works are of poor quality “wood, hay, and straw,” they will be consumed by the fire, and there will be no reward. The passage does not say that believers pass through the fire, but rather that a believer’s works pass through the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15 refers to the believer “escaping through the flames,” not “being cleansed by the flames.”

Purgatory, like many other Catholic dogmas, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Catholics view the Mass / Eucharist as a re-presentation of Christ’s sacrifice because they fail to understand that Jesus’ once for all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient (Hebrews 7:27). Catholics view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to a failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Similarly, Purgatory is understood by Catholics as a place of cleansing in preparation for Heaven because they do not recognize that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are already cleansed, declared righteous, forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, and sanctified.

The very idea of Purgatory, and the doctrines that are often attached to it (prayer for the dead, indulgences, meritorious works on behalf of the dead, etc.) all fail to recognize that Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay the penalty for ALL of our sins. Jesus, who was God incarnate (John 1:1,14), paid an infinite price for our sin. Jesus died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). To limit Jesus’ sacrifice to atoning for original sin, or sins committed before salvation, is an attack on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we must in any sense pay for, atone for, or suffer because of our sins – that indicates Jesus’ death was not a perfect, complete, and sufficient sacrifice.

For believers, after death is to be "away from the body and at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). Notice that this does not say "away from the body, in Purgatory with the cleansing fire." No, because of the perfection, completion, and sufficiency of Jesus' sacrifice, we are immediately in the Lord's presence after death, fully cleansed, free from sin, glorified, perfected, and ultimately sanctified.

"Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and the existence of hell?"

The existence of hell and the surety of the judgment are not the claims of fallible man. The Bible is the source of the claim, and it is utterly infallible. When someone becomes a Christian, he is admitting that he was in the wrong, and that God is justified in His declarations that we have sinned against Him.

However, let’s surmise for a moment that there is no Judgment Day and no hell. That would mean that the Bible is a huge hoax, in which more than forty authors collaborated (over a period of 3,000 years) to produce a document revealing God’s character as "just." They portrayed Him as a just judge, who warned that He would eventually punish murderers, rapists, liars, thieves, adulterers, etc. Each of those writers (who professed to be godly) therefore bore false witness, transgressing the very commandments they claimed to be true.

It would mean that Jesus Christ was a liar, and that all the claims He made about the reality of judgment were there-fore false. It would also mean that He gave His life in vain, as did multitudes of martyrs who have given their lives for the cause of Christ. Add to that the thought that if there is no ultimate justice, it means that the Creator of all things is unjust—that He sees murder and rape and couldn’t care less, making Him worse than a corrupt human judge who refuses to bring criminals to justice.

Here’s the good news, though, if there is no hell: You won’t know a thing after you die. It will be the end. No heaven, no hell. Just nothing. You won’t even realize that it’s good news.

Here’s the bad news if the Bible is right and that there is eternal justice: You will find yourself standing before the judgment throne of a holy God, who has seen every sin you have ever committed. Think of it. A holy and perfect Creator has seen your thought-life and every secret sin you have ever committed. You have a multitude of sins, and God must by nature carry out justice. Ask Him to remind you of the sins of your youth. Ask Him to bring to remembrance your secret sexual sins, the lies, the gossip, and other idle words. You may have forgotten your past sins, but God hasn’t. Hell will be your just desert (exactly what you deserve), and you will have no one to blame but yourself. This is the claim of the Bible. If you don’t believe it, it is still true. It will still happen.

Yet, there is good news—incredibly good news. We deserve judgment, but God offers us mercy through the cross. He paid our fine so that we could leave the courtroom. He destroyed the power of the grave for all who obey Him. Simply obey the gospel, and live. By doing that you will find out for yourself that the gospel is indeed the "gospel truth." Jesus said that if you obey Him, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (see John 8:31,32).

Get on your knees today, confess and forsake your sins. Tell God you are truly sorry, then trust the Savior as you would trust yourself to a parachute. Then you will find yourself in a terrible dilemma. You will know for certain that hell is a reality. When you get up the courage to warn people you care about, they will smile passively, and say, "Could you be wrong in your claims about Judgment Day and the existence of hell?"

How can a compassionate God send people to Hell?

God desires that every man escape Hell and find salvation . Hell is intended for the rebellious angel, and for Satan - the once Angel of Light who thought to supplant God , and in whom there is no good. Anyone who regrets his evil deeds and repents, and turns to God through Christ will be saved from hell. But those who persist in evil, because they love it, or are too proud to submit to God, or are just plain foolish enough to disregard God, will not escape condemnation. 

God is just, hearing the cry of those oppressed by sinners, and so will not let evil persist forever. For this reason, we are under a physical death sentence, our ancestors being evicted from Eden to prevent our perpetuity as a doers of evil. But even as this judgment was pronounced, God gave the first promise of redemption through the descendent of woman, who is Jesus Christ, so that we have hope of salvation, and can escape the second death of the soul. 

How many lost souls are in Hell today?

“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2 Peter 2:9). There is not one single soul in hellfire today. The Bible says that God reserves, or holds back, the wicked until the day of judgment to be punished.

“When will sinners be cast into Hell?

Sinners will be cast into hell at the great judgment day at the end of the world, not when they die. God wo8uld not punish a person in fire untilhis case was tried and decided in court at the end of the world. Nor would God burn a murderer who died 5,000 years ago 5,000 years longer than one who dies and deserves punishment for the same sin today. (Matthew: 13:40-42, John 12:48).

“Where are sinners who have died now?”

The Bible is specific. Both the wicked and the righteous who have died are in their graves “sleeping” until the resurrection day. (John 5:28, 29, Job 21:30, 32).

“What will happen to the ones in Hell?”

The wicked died the second death. If the wicked lived forever being tortured in hell, the would be immortal. But this is impossible, because the Bible says God “only hath immortality”. When Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden, an angel was posted to guard the tree of life so that sinners would not eat of the tree and “live forever.” (Gen. 3:22-24). [Fire shall devour them (Ps. 21:9; God will destroy them (Ps. 145.20; they “shall perish” (Ps. 37:20).

 “Will Satan be in charge of Hell?”

Absolutely not! Satan will be cast into the fire and it will turn him into ashes. [“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:10); “I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee…And never shall thou be anymore.” Ezekiel 28:18, 19)].

If God is everywhere, is He in Hell?

Yes. Insofar as Divine omnipresence implies access and involves, or interrelates to, the other Divine attributes of infinitude, omnipotence (control), and omniscience (awareness), God is present even in hell. No door anywhere is closed to God. No room is locked. No corner of the universe or reality is off-limits to Deity. The Bible affirms this truth in texts like Psalm 139:7-10, Colossians 1:17, Amos 9:1-4, Isaiah 66:1-2, Jeremiah 23:23-24.

God, however, is not relationally present with, or available to, those in hell. That is, He is not present to bless, deal with, or grant even common grace and light in hell, which explains the terrifying sense of Matthew 25:41, the external extrapolation of a spiritual separation that occurs even now when sin is present (Isaiah 59:2, Matthew 27:46).

"Does someone go to hell for committing suicide?"

Those who are adamant that a person who takes his life is committing a mortal sin, and will go to hell, are basing their belief on church doctrine rather than on the Bible. Scripture is silent on the subject. There are no verses that say "He who takes his own life shall be damned." According to Scripture, only one sin does not have forgiveness, and that is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (see Mark 3:29 footnote). That means there is forgiveness for every other sin.

Some quote 1 Corinthians 3:17, which says that God will destroy someone who "defiles" the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yet, there is disagreement about what it means to defile the temple. Does this include suicide? Does it include illicit drug abuse (slow suicide), prescription drug abuse, cigarettes (deliberately breathing in poisons that will eventually kill), tattoos, over-eating (digging a grave with your spoon), or alcohol abuse?

God forbid that we add to the pain of someone who has lost a loved one through the tragedy of suicide, by making a judgment about their eternal destiny. God is the ultimate Judge, and we should therefore leave the issue in His hands. It would be wise to follow the biblical example and not come to any verdict in the case of suicide.

"Hell is just a metaphor for the grave."

There are three words translated "hell" in Scripture:

Gehenna (Greek): The place of punishment (Matthew 5:22,29; 10:28; and James 3:6) Hades (Greek): The abode of the dead (Matthew 11:23; 16:18, Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27) Sheol (Hebrew): The grave (Psalm 9:17; 16:10)

There are those who accept that hell is a place of punishment, but believe that the punishment is to be annihilated—to cease conscious existence. They can’t conceive that the punishment of the wicked will be conscious and eternal. If they are correct, then a man like Adolph Hitler, who was responsible for the deaths of millions, is being "punished" merely with eternal sleep. His fate is simply to return to the non-existent state he was in before he was born, where he doesn’t even know that he is being punished.

However, Scripture paints a different story. The rich man who found himself in hell (Luke 16:19–31) was conscious. He was able to feel pain, to thirst, and to experience remorse. He wasn’t asleep in the grave; he was in a place of "torment." If hell is a place of knowing nothing or a reference to the grave into which we go at death, Jesus' statements about hell make no sense. He said that if your hand, foot, or eye causes you to sin, it would be better to remove it than to "go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43–48).

The Bible refers to the fate of the unsaved with such fearful words as the following:

  • "Shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2)
  • "Everlasting punishment" (Mathew 25:46)
  • "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:51)
  • "Fire unquenchable" (Luke 3:17)
  • "Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish" (Romans 2:8,9)
  • "Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
  • "Eternal fire...the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 7,13)

Revelation 14:10,11 tells us the final, eternal destiny of the sinner: "He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone...the smoke of their torment ascended up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night."

"Hell isn’t a place. This life is hell."

Skeptics who say this are trying to dismiss the reality of hell. They might like to think that life as we know it couldn’t get any worse, but the sufferings in this life will be heaven compared to the suffering in the next life—for those who die in their sins. This life is the closest thing to hell that Christians will ever know, and the closest thing to heaven that sinners will ever know. For a biblical description of hell, see Revelation 1:18 footnote.

"How can people be happy in heaven, knowing that their unsaved loved ones are suffering in hell?"

Those who ask such questions fall into the category of those who asked Jesus a similar question. The Pharisees said that a certain woman had seven consecutive husbands, so whose wife will she be in heaven (Mark 12:23)? Jesus answered by saying that they neither knew the Scriptures nor the power of God. The unregenerate mind has no concept of God’s mind or His infinite power. If God can speak the sun into existence; if He can see every thought of every human heart at the same time; if He can create the human eye with its 137,000,000 light-sensitive cells, then He can handle the minor details of our eternal salvation.

John writes that in heaven "we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2), so perhaps we will be fully satisfied that God is perfectly just and merciful, and that He gave every individual the opportunity to accept or reject Him. However He works it out, God promises that there will not be sorrow or crying in heaven. Our focus in heaven won’t be on our loss, but on our gain.

"I don’t mind going to hell. All my friends will be there."

Obviously, those who flippantly say such things don’t believe in the biblical concept of hell. Their understanding of the nature of God is erroneous. The slow-witted criminal thinks that the electric chair is a place to put up his feet for a while and relax. It may be wise therefore to speak with him for a few moments about the reasonableness of a place called hell.

Reason with him by saying, "If a judge in Florida turns a blind eye to the un-lawful dealings of the Mafia, if he sees their murderous acts and deliberately turns the other way, is he a good or bad judge? He’s obviously corrupt, and should be brought to justice him-self. If he is a good judge, he will do everything within his power to bring those murderers to justice. He should make sure that they are justly punished.

"If Almighty God sees a man rape and strangle to death your sister or mother, do you think He should look the other way, or bring that murderer to justice? If He looks the other way, He’s corrupt and should be brought to justice Himself. It makes sense then, that if God is good, He will do everything in His power to ensure justice is done. The Bible tells us that He will punish murderers, and the place of punishment—the prison God will send them to—is a place called hell.

"God should punish murderers and rapists. However, God is so good, he will also punish thieves, liars, adulterers, fornicators, and blasphemers. He will even punish those who desired to murder and rape but never took the opportunity. He warns that if we hate someone, we commit murder in our hearts. If we lust, we commit adultery in the heart, etc."

Then take the time to tell him of the reality of hell. Sinners like to picture hell as a fun, hedonistic, pleasure-filled place where they can engage in all the sensual sins that are forbidden here. But Jesus said that it is a place of torment, where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched (Matthew 9:45-47). We tend to forget what pain is like when we don’t have it. Can you begin to imagine how terrible it would be to be in agony, with no hope of relief? Many human beings go insane if they are merely isolated for a long time from other people. Imagine how terrible it would be if God merely withdrew all the things we hold so dear—friendship, love, color, light, peace, joy, laughter, and security. Hell isn’t just a place with an absence of God’s blessings, it is punishment for sin. It is literal torment, forever. That’s why the Bible warns that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

God has given His Law to convince men of their sins, and unless a sinner is convinced that he has sinned against God, he won’t see that hell is his eternal destiny. He may consider it a fit place for others, but not for himself. That’s why we mustn’t hesitate to open up the Law and show that each individual is personally responsible for sin, and that God’s wrath abides on him because of it. Ask him to consider why you would say such things to him if it wasn’t true. Tell him to examine your motives. You are so concerned for his eternal welfare that you are prepared to risk offending him.

Then ask him if he would sell an eye for a million dollars. Would he sell both for ten million? No one in his right mind would. Our eyes are precious to us. How much more then is our eternal soul worth? (For a biblical description of hell, see Revelation 1:18 footnote.)

"Is ‘hell-fire’ preaching effective?"

Preaching the reality of hell, without using the Law to bring the knowledge of sin, can do a great deal of damage to the cause of the gospel. A sinner cannot conceive of the thought that God would send anyone to hell, as long as he is deceived into thinking that God’s standard of righteousness is the same as his. Paul "reasoned" with Felix regarding righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come (Acts 24:25). This is the righteousness that is of the Law and judgment by the Law. Felix "trembled" because he suddenly understood that his intemperance made him a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God. The reality of hell suddenly became reasonable to him when the Law was used to bring the knowledge of sin.

Imagine if the police burst into your home, arrested you, and shouted, "You are going away for a long time!" Such conduct would probably leave you bewildered and angry. What they have done seems unreasonable. However, imagine if the law burst into your home and instead told you specifically why you were in trouble: "We have discovered 10,000 marijuana plants growing in your back yard. You are going away for a long time!" At least then you would understand why you are in trouble. Knowledge of the law you have transgressed furnished you with that understanding. It makes judgment reasonable.

Hell-fire preaching without use of the Law to show the sinner why God is angry with him will more than likely leave him bewildered and angry—for what he considers unreasonable punishment.

"Will people who have never heard the gospel all go to hell because they haven’t heard about Jesus Christ?"

No one will go to hell because they haven’t heard of Jesus Christ. The heathen will go to hell for murder, rape, adultery, lust, theft, lying, etc. Sin is not failing to hear the gospel. Rather, "sin is the transgression of the Law" (1 John 3:4). If we really care about the lost, we will become missionaries and take the good news of God’s forgiveness in Christ to them. See John 16:9 footnote.

"You are using scare tactics by talking about hell and Judgment Day."

In the late 1980s, TV commercials in the U.S. asked, "What goes through the mind of a driver who is not wearing a seat belt in a head- n collision?" Then they showed a crash dummy having its head crushed by a steering wheel in a collision, and said, "The steering wheel!" Those were scare tactics, but no one complained because they were legitimate scare tactics. That’s what happens in a head-on collision if you are foolish enough to not put on a seat belt. To warn of hell is fearful, but it is absolutely legitimate, because the Bible says that it is a fearful thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of the living God.

Is there an actual place called “Hell”?

The answer to this question rests in the authority of the Scripture, because the Bible certainly teaches us of a very real and very terrible place of punishment for those who keep Christ out of their lives.

It's very sad to me that we so often hear people speak of Hell lightly. To many it is something to be joked about, or a curse word used casually.

The fact of the reality of Hell is taught throughout the Bible in innumerable passages. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself probably had more to say about it than anyone else. He was a teacher with the most impressive credentials--a sinless life, a miraculous ministry, and an empty tomb that could not hold Him.

Christ is often spoken of as "Gentle Jesus, meek and mild," but that label hardly fits with the language we find in Mark chapter nine as He affirms the fact and reality of Hell. We read these strong statements:

And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.            -Mark 9:43-48

In another passage Christ calls the Scribes and Pharisees a "generation of vipers," and warns them, "How will you escape the damnation of Hell?" (Matt. 23:33) Those are pretty strong words from the Lord Jesus. He laid it on the line. He told it like it is.

When someone questions the fact and reality of Hell, he's actually questioning the authority of the Bible, and the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The Christian faith is all tied up together, and when it is attacked at one point, it becomes vulnerable at all. It holds together beautifully.

If Christ is the Son of God, and if He came into time from eternity, and came into the world from Heaven and died and rose again from the dead, then anything He ever said on any subject is worth hearing and ought to be heeded. And is really to be received without question. So people who have problems with the fact and reality of Hell sometimes do not realize that their real problem is with the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and who He is and why He came to the world.

Why was Hell made?

Matthew 25:41 tells us that Hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels. That’s why such a place was prepared in the first place.

It was not by original plan and design for men and women--for human sinners. It was prepared for the Devil and his angels. The Lord Jesus tells us that Himself.

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell?

In Mark 9, notice that the Lord Jesus repeats three times about Hell, “where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.” Now, I personally feel that it is a great waste of time to quibble and argue with people about whether it is literal, real fire or not. And it seems there is some reason for saying that it need not necessarily be a real fire, or that this is a literal, real worm that is referred to here. But it is interesting to note that one of the Bible words used to describe Hell is Gehenna, and that referred to the garbage dump of the valley of Hen, where there was fire constantly burning, and the worm and maggots never lacked something to eat. They were always alive, always in existence.

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? The fact of the matter is that if this is just symbolic language, it’s bad enough for me, and certainly the reality will be worse than the symbol. And fire isn’t very funny. If you’ve ever been badly burned, as I was as a little boy, you never forget it. And if the Lord is simply using symbolic language, how much more terrible must the reality be?

You don’t need fire to be in pain.

Now, I don’t think physical suffering is the worse kind of suffering. We know that when Jesus was on the cross He took and an awful lot of abuse. He was spit on and mocked. They pushed sharp thorns down into His head, shredded His back with the cat-o’-nine-tails, drove the nails in and the spear. He was even deserted by His own disciples. The physical suffering was great. They even plucked the beard out of His face. But you never hear the Lord Jesus complaining about any of that. Rather, the peak of His agony and His suffering is when He cries out, “My God, my God why has thou forsaken me?”

The real pinnacle of suffering for Jesus was to be God-forsaken and to be left alone. That hurt more than thorns and thistles and spears and nails and whips and spit and all the rest—to be God-forsaken.

I honestly don’t think that those of us in America can appreciate or understand that as much as some missionaries who have gone out to some of the most primitive parts of the world, where some have told me that the spiritual darkness is so heavy you feel you could cut it with a knife. The presence of the Demonic and the Devil and the powers of darkness are felt keenly. We can’t really understand what it would be like to be in a place where the hard Satanic atmosphere has not been broken, shattered, or in some ways penetrated through the persistent preaching of the Gospel.

When we read in the Old Testament, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4), really the idea of the word is that it shall be separated. It is not non-existence or annihilation, but rather it is separation from God.

    * Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body.

      Spiritual death is the separation of the soul from God.

When Jesus said,“why has thou forsaken me?” that was the height of the suffering.