Hell is For Real
by Mary Toepfer
Here’s the truth …
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 ESV).
What if I told you, if you were traveling to a foreign destination, not to bother to go? That it would be a horrible place to visit and that you would be unhappy, wishing you had chosen someplace else? That you’d be surrounded by sinners operating in their sin nature at the fullest, much worse than anything you have seen others do before? That you wouldn’t get any daylight there, so certainly no sunbathing opportunities? Would you listen, or would you want to find out for yourself?
Unfortunately, such is the case with most people when it comes to a discussion about hell. No one likes to think about it. People think of death and cross their fingers, hoping that they have been good enough to make it to the land overflowing with milk and honey, golden streets, and pearly gates; but it’s easier for them to put it out of their heads so that they can live on earth unencumbered by the idea that such a place might not be waiting for them when they die.
I just listened to a podcast by Tony Evans on the subject of hell, and it was quite sobering. He explained that it is, indeed, a very real destination and defined it as, “The place of eternal exile where the ungodly experience the just retribution of God against sin.” If you go there, you will become quite acquainted with a place “where the maggots never die and the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:47 NLT), “torment” (Luke 16:23 NLT), “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46 NLT), “anguish in these flames” (Luke 16:24 NLT), “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50 NLT), the smell of “burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:20 NLT), and “a great chasm” (Luke 16: 26 NLT) that will separate you from Heaven. Unfortunately, you will be able to see what you missed out on, as a rich man discussed in these verses above in Luke did, but you won’t be able to escape hell to experience it.
My pastor once said that people often question how a good God can send people to hell. His answer was a very thoughtful one. If God really loved a victim of abuse, for example, there has to be a hell for the abuser, right? He is a merciful God and loves the victim too much to let it slide. But what about the times when we are the victimizers, because we all are victimizers at some point in our lives? Shouldn’t God bring justice for our victims as well? The real question should be, then: how can a loving God let anyone into Heaven?
That got me thinking, as it should all of us. Praise God that He mercifully created a plan for us! If we want to ensure that we will go to Heaven and that our loved ones will as well, we must follow the path that was presented to us in His Word. Jesus said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (John 14:2-3 NLT).
This same Jesus is trustworthy. He told us that He would die and would be risen again after three days (Matthew 16:21), and that actually happened, as many eyewitnesses attested to it and were willing to die a martyr’s death to share that news with others. Jesus came to earth in order to go through hell for us—to become the victimizer for all the times that we would be a victimizer—so that our sins would not be held against us and so that we could enjoy Heaven when we die. If we choose to ignore Him as our Savior after He did that for us, then where should we go when we die? We’d have to go to hell because God is too loving not to judge us for our unbelief.
Jesus encouraged people to “follow” Him throughout the Gospels. Kyle Idleman says in his book Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus that Jesus said to “believe in” Him five times and to “follow” Him about 20 times in His Gospel message (pp. 32-33). The two ideas of faith and following go together. Jesus desires a relationship with us. And only then, when we are facing God in Heaven to be judged, will Jesus step in front of us and say, “This one is with me, God.” When God looks upon us, He will see only sinless Jesus standing before us, the one who went to hell for us so that we wouldn’t have to.
We absolutely must believe that Jesus did this for us and spend time in a relationship with Him as part of God’s plan for the redemption for us all. If we choose to go about our lives in our own strength and without Jesus and the Holy Spirit He sent to us when He ascended into Heaven, we will not know Him and will have to pay the penalty for our sins ourselves. That’s the justice that a loving God created, and He made it so simple to avoid hell. Believe, repent, and follow Jesus. That’s it.
We must make it our life’s mission to bring this to the attention of those around us who don’t know that hell awaits them if they don’t surrender their lives to Jesus before they die. Gone are the days of nodding our heads and keeping quiet when they say, “Well, I’ve been a good person. Surely God will let me into Heaven. I hope so, anyway.”
There is assurance that we can give them: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 ESV).
The time is now to confess the above. If you haven’t, let me assure you that when you die, you will go to hell. The path to Heaven is very narrow (Matthew 7:14 ESV), but it exists, and Jesus is there to greet you. He will guide you while you are on this earth and will be waiting for you after you die to take you to Heaven with Him. It’s not too late, as the thief on the cross next to Jesus demonstrated (Luke 23:32-43), but if you stop breathing today without repenting of your sins and accepting Him as your Savior from hell, it certainly could be!
… and that’s the truth as I know it!
Evans, T. (2019, Sept. 9). “What is Hell Like.” From The Afterlife: Glimpses of Heaven & Hell Sermon Series [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http://tonyevans.org/podcast/what-is-hell-like/
Idleman, K. (2011). Not a fan: Becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.