As I write this, a heat wave is pushing through much of the United States, causing power outages and even some deaths due to heat exhaustion or the physical stress brought on by the heat. For most of us, the heat is just really uncomfortable.
We also might be uncomfortable talking about hell. We live in a culture where we value individual freedom very highly, even when individual freedom can cause tremendous damage to ourselves or others. So many people are not comfortable with the idea of hell. They are not comfortable with the idea that people are accountable to God for sin and that if they reject God they will get what they wish – eternal separation from God. But what does the Bible say?
Jesus Himself talks about hell quite a bit in the Gospels, and he describes hell as a real thing. “But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:22). A few verses later, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says “it is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Hell is also described by Jesus as a place of darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12)
Hell is a place of eternal torment. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Thessalonica, said these words:
He will punish those who do not know God and do not believe the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)
And hell is a place to take very seriously. In Luke 12:5, Jesus says this: “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” Here Jesus teaches us that we should have great respect for God, who sees all and judges every sin and who has the power to throw people into hell.
But we don’t need to be afraid, for Jesus also teaches us that hell is not designed for people. In Matthew 25:41 He says, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” God created hell for Satan and the other fallen angels who rebelled against God, and God doesn’t desire even one person to end up in hell. God does not want anyone to be eternally separated from Him. That’s why He sent His Son Jesus, who experienced separation from the Father on the cross as He bore the punishment for our sins. The sin that would condemn us to hell was punished in Jesus. Our guilt was laid on Him. When we trust in Jesus, hell is not our destination! Instead, God is preparing for us an eternal home filled with glory, joy, and life!
So we don’t need to be afraid of hell, because Jesus paid for our sins when He died, and He rose from the dead to give us eternal life.
There is one more thought I would like to share with you. Each one of us has neighbors, friends, or family members who need Jesus. May God give us a love that is strong enough to share the Gospel with them, so that hell need not be feared by them either.