My mom died several years ago. An industrious woman, she always went out of her way to show us kids that she loved us. Unfortunately, however, she developed dementia, and although she still remembered us kids, she was just a shell of the person I knew. I remember calling her at the nursing home where she lived, only to hear about how good the food was. Mom, I look forward to seeing you again in heaven.
I have blocked out a lot of things about my mom’s funeral, probably because they were too painful to remember. One thing I didn’t block out, however, was a statement my sister made when the service was over. She came up to me in tears and blurted out, “Tim, I don’t believe in an eternal hell. I think hell is right here.”
Many people have a similar viewpoint, and that is one reason I feel compelled to write about this subject. The biggest misconception people have when it comes to the Christian faith is that they tend to see God as some kind of divine redneck, sitting up in heaven with a smile on his face and breathing out fire. If we view Him in this way, we rob ourselves of His true love for us.
Unfortunately, I think many people implant the wrong picture of God in their minds. They envision Him looking down in disgust and laughing vindictively. “It’s either my way or the highway!” He says. “You are not good enough to enter my presence!”
But nothing could be further from the truth. According to the Bible, none of us can live up to God’s standards. Yet He invites us into His presence anyway, because He sent His son to die a painful death in our place.
Hell was never created for mankind in the first place. Humans have to squeze past the cross where Jesus suffered, which stands in hell’s way. The cross is love’s barrier, which keeps us from entering a place that wasn’t designed for us.
To see this, look at the words of Jesus. In Matthew 25-41, He made it clear that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels.
Generally speaking, we have already looked at the first of two extremes concerning this lethal topic. But people make light of this subject by using humor, or by ignoring it altogether.
You have probably heard comments like this one: “I’m not scared of hell–all my friends will be there.” This response reminds me of how kids deal with things, though adults often act in a similar fashion. When we see a child’s reaction, we may smile and shake our heads.
However, ignoring these similarities, the difference is that when adults experience an especially difficult time in their lives, they call the negative emotions they face unhealthy coping stratigies or burnout.
Sadly enough, instead of running to God for His help, we tend to run away from Him. Then we look elsewhere, trying to find the meaning and purpose which only He can provide.
I am not pointing fingers, and I myself am not exempt from this kind of escape. I remember when I was facing an especially difficult situation in my life. I felt like I was at my breaking point, and I couldn’t go on. Rather than depending upon God, I drowned my sorrows in a half-gallon tub of ice cream. No matter how tame that may seem to you, my point is that instead of asking God to help me face reality at that moment, I chose to escape. In other words, when the idea of sweeping the unpleasantness I faced under the rug came into my mind, I acted on it by going to the freezer. First the thought of escape came into my mind, and then I yielded to it. It seemed harmless enough, but then it became more and more overpowering to me until I finally gave in.
That was where I made my first mistake. In taking God out of the equation, I robbed myself of the power, strength, and wisdom which He offers, as well as the peace and joy.
Later, when I discovered that God had my back all the time, it was too late, and I had made my choices. As you can guess, I had escaped my problems temporarily, but they soon came back in full force.
My friend, we all tend to put unpleasant problems on the shelf. We may even try to escape or cope by resorting to sex outside of marriage, substance abuse, and other wrongful things. But these are Satan’s counterfeit solutions, and Jesus said that Satan was a thief who came to steal anything of lasting value from our lives, bringing destruction in return.
Rather than seeing God as some kind of brutal dictator, scripture paints this picture of Him. Our Father is a God who has an eternal concern and an overwhelming love for you, and for all the rest of His creation. The Bible tells us that He sees us as the apple of His eye, looking upon our thoughts as precious.
So instead of looking at what men have said, we will address what the Bible has to say on the topic of hell. However, in order to do this subject justice, we first need to take a brief look at the character of God.
The apostle John emphasises this when he tells us in the second half of 1 John 4:7 that God is love. However, Peter takes that one step further when he says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, KJ21)
Then, in the Old Testament, Ezekiel adds, “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11, NKJV)
God Himself tells us about His unchanging character in both testaments. For example, God said through Malachi, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6, KJV)
Then the Bible says in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (NIV)
I think you will agree that first of all, a true love is both fair and impartial. You can see this principle in Genesis 18, starting with verse 16. Here, if you remember, Abraham is pleading with God to save the righteous from the destruction of wicked Sodom. As he cries out to God, these words pour from his lips:
“Far be it from you to do such a thing–to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25, NIV)
Then Peter said in Acts 10, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35, NASB)
One last example of the amazing love of God can be found in Isaiah 49:15: Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (NRSV)
An affront to the character of God, many paintings and sermons have unfortunately portrayed Him as a maniacal monster who can’t wait to hurl transgressors into the lake of fire. But just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem when everyone there rejected Him, I am certain that God the Father weeps over those who choose not to follow Him.
While I don’t pretend to know what terrible situation you may be facing, the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation tell us that God is on our side.
Jesus told us of God’s infinite love when He spoke, but He did much more than give God lip service. He proved it to us by dying and rising again. He said that God has every hair on our heads numbered, and the Father is able to do above what we ask or think. So while you may not believe me right now, God is more concerned about your current pain than you are.
Don’t let Satan use your feelings to blind you to this fact. Instead, learn to lean on the One who loves you the most, as you allow Him to guide you through this life and into the next.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870.
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