“At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.”
- Daniel 12:1-4
“Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world; but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste.”
- C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
“Does hell serve a purpose? … Remove it from the Bible, and at the same time, remove any notion of a just God and a trustworthy Scripture. …
“If there is no hell, God is not just. If there is no punishment for sin, heaven is apathetic toward rapists and pillagers and mass murderers of society. If there is no hell. God is blind toward the victims and has turned his back on those who have prayed for relief. If there is no wrath toward evil, then God is not love, for love hates that which is evil.
“To say that there is no hell is to say that God is a liar and his Scripture is untrue. The Bible repeatedly and stoutly affirms the dualistic outcome of history. Some will be saved. Some will be lost.”
- Max Lucado, When Christ Comes
Daniel is not the only one to mention that there will be those who are not saved. The Apostle John mentions those who are not written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire along with Satan and his minions (Rev. 20:15). Jesus says in Matthew 20:28 that He gives up His life as ransom for many, not all. And Jesus talks of hell. Of the 15 references in the NIV to the word ‘hell’, eleven are spoken by Jesus.
Hell is real. If not, there would be no need for salvation. The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross would be empty of all meaning. And as Max Lucado says, it would make God, the Father, and Jesus out to be liars.
Why is it that many Christians, or those calling themselves that, do not believe in hell? I cannot remember where I read it, but someone said that they had never met a true, life-giving believer in Jesus who did not also believe in hell.
I think this stems from the double-minded among us that James 1:8 talks about. They say they believe, probably on an intellectual level only, but they have no “faith” in that belief, so if they convince themselves that there is no hell (that Jesus lied), then there is nothing to worry about. They no longer have to examine themselves. They no longer have to repent. They can put Jesus in their back pocket, as a good luck talisman, and continue on as if it doesn’t matter. But it does matter.
But let’s get back to Max Lucado’s central point. God would not be just, nor would God be love, without a hatred of sin. This is not a hatred as humans have for each other. This is a pure hatred. God is “Holy.” This means He is entirely something that we, in our sinful states, are not, and really, we cannot even conceive, completely. For God to be good, He must be the antithesis of sin and evil. And Jesus said that only God is good. Thus, anyone who does not repent, and turn from their sin, cannot be saved, because God is holy and cannot coexist in His world with the unholy, those not washed with the blood of the Lamb.
Thinking of Jesus as the Holy, Son of God, walking among us, His love for us trumped His aversion to the sin in us. He walked among us, showing love to those who, in their sin, were His enemies. Yet, they could be saved by believing in Him, and many who saw Jesus among them were saved. It boggles the mind. Simple, yet complex beyond comprehension that someone who is all love and holiness, could walk among us and give up His life as ransom for us. Yet, even then, there is a consequence for being unrepentant and rejecting His holiness. Remember that Jesus said of Judas that it would have been better if he had never been born (Matthew 26:24).
There must be a hell.
But, even so, in a Heaven where there is no more crying and no more pain, having a hell nearby, as a constant reminder, would be a source of pain, knowing those who are suffering there. I think this is why C. S. Lewis, in his personal, fictional idea of the afterlife, described hell as being less than one atom of the New Earth, where hell could be swallowed by a butterfly and the butterfly would never taste it. So far removed, that we no longer know that hell is there. Thus, Jesus wipes away our tears.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.