Exposing Myths about Hell
Hell! It’s a hot subject, at least for those who think about it. But most don’t. The moral failures of Tiger Woods, NFL playoffs, and what’s happening in the White House garner far more attention than the penalty of sin awaiting sinners. The Bible predicts that someday “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Surely those who experience that fiery place will wish they had considered Hell more seriously! Believe it or not, this tiny tract is your opportunity to discover the truth in advance. Hopefully, it will help you avoid an unfortunate fate, plus clear up massive confusion about a terribly misunderstood subject.
Hell is Real
First of all, the Bible is crystal clear that hell is real, rather than being merely a mythical place of imaginary musings. Using plain language, Jesus Christ stated that someday “those who practice lawlessness” will be cast into “the furnace of fire” where there “will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41-42). Yes, hell is real, not an illusion. But notice carefully when the Master clarified such flames will occur. “So shall it be at the end of this world” (verse 40, KJV, emphasis added). In other words, according to Jesus Christ, “the furnace of fire” predicted in the Holy Bible will be ignited only at the conclusion of human history. It’s not burning now. Peter agreed when he warned,
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens [the sky] will pass away with a great noise, and the elements [the atmosphere] will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10, emphasis added).
Thus someday – and once again the time predicted is still future – both the sky above and the earth below will literally catch fire, “melt with fervent heat,” and “be burned up.” This is the same “furnace of fire” Jesus spoke about. So if you’ve been taught that the sum total of the Bible’s message about Hell points to a smoky place burning now somewhere beneath Los Angeles or Tokyo, think again. Peter clarified that “the furnace” is still future, and that our entire sin-polluted planet is destined for flames. Yet he concluded with a comforting assurance: “Nevertheless we, according to His [God’s] promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13).
What will happen to the lost on that fearful day? Notice carefully:
As wax melts before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God (Psalm 68:2).
The wicked shall perish … into smoke shall they vanish away (Psalm 37:20).
God Himself also declares:
Behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly, will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up, says the Lord of hosts, That it will leave them neither root nor branch … they shall be ashes … says the Lord of hosts (Malachi 4:1, 3, emphasis added).
Here “the Lord of hosts” speaks, not man. Putting these verses together we discover that, instead of being endlessly tortured in eternal flames (as many mistakenly teach today), those who are finally lost will “perish,” “vanish away,” “burn up,” and be reduced to “ashes” so that “neither root nor branch” remains. Now think soberly. If a plant is destroyed so that no root or branch remains, how much is left of that plant? Absolutely nothing. This is what God says will happen to “all who do wickedly.”
The Bible states that God will eventually punish sin and sinners because He is just and true. He can’t overlook evil. Yet God is merciful too. In fact, our magnificent Creator is so merciful that, in the hope of not having to punish us, He allowed His own Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer our punishment in our place. Two thousand years ago on a cruel cross, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). In a nutshell, this simply means that, what we deserve, He endured. Hanging on a cross outside Jerusalem, He who “knew no sin” mysteriously became “sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), is His personal message to you.
Yes, according to God’s Book, Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for “the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2) in order to rescue us from eternal damnation and a fiery fate in “the lake of fire,” which “is the second death” (Revelation 20:14) at the end of the world. The big question is, how can we avoid such a fearful doom? The biblical answer is that we must “repent” of our sins (Acts 2:38), which means to turn away from all wrongdoing, trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior (see Ephesians 1:12), and follow the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16,17). If we do, God’s promise is that we will have “eternal life” (Romans 6:23).
Years ago a Jewish man named Corrie listened with rapt attention as I shared these truths during a Bible Seminar in Woodbury, New Jersey. With great carefulness, I built my case that a loving God will administer nothing more than perfect justice on Judgment Day (see Revelation 20:11-13), that this will result in the tragic, total annihilation of unrepentant sinners in a global “lake of fire,” and that when the smoke clears, God will then create “a new heaven and a new earth” where there will be “no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain (Revelation 21:1,4, KJV) and where all who have fully accepted His free gift of salvation will live forever. After my talk, with teary eyes, Corrie approached me with an outstretched hand. He then confessed that the popular notion of God torturing lost souls forever in an eternally burning cavern called Hell had always hindered his having personal faith in Jesus Christ.
Now that barrier had been removed.
Now He could believe the truth that “God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Heaven’s Invitation to You
Dear reader, what about you? Whether you believe it or not, God loves you more than any mother ever loved her child. To prove such love, He even allowed His own Son to pay the full penalty for your personal sins on a cross. What was that penalty? Death. But thank God, on Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the dead. Now He is alive in heaven, and by the Holy Spirit He is appealing to your heart today, saying,
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
“Everlasting life” is a free gift offered to those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus. If you reject this gift, God can’t save you. Then on Judgment Day, you will be held accountable for your sins, be “cast into the lake of fire,” utterly “perish,” and miss Heaven.
Be smart. Respond to God’s love. Accept Jesus Christ today!