Hell

Matthew 24:41,

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’

Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate. (Translated, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” As the Gustave Dore above illustrates from Canto III)

I write a lot about love, God’s consuming love for us, our redemptive journey, our love affair with our Beloved Jesus, spiritual warfare, and our need to love our neighbor as ourselves. But there is one other aspect of the story we need to grasp in all of this…God is not losing in this. He is God. His Son was brutally tortured and murdered during this story, he had a massive number of angels and his own people rebel against him. He has been spit on, hated, cursed, beaten (literally), forgotten, disdained, marginalized, I could go on and on here. Yet, he is God. Forever.

When Satan and his angels rebelled the first time, he made a place for them to be imprisoned in. A horrible place.  A place called the lake of fire.

Now, many might say, oh no, our God is a God of love..true. He is. To us, his beloved, he is the Lamb. He is gentle, he is loving. He is a Bridegroom, a Lover, a Friend, a Father, a Counselor, an Intercessor. He is the Desire of the Nations. He is everything to us.

And

He is God. And he hates evil. He hates Satan, he hates the fallen angels. He uses them, he manipulates them, he allows them to be free roaming for a time for his purpose, but let there be no mistake, Jesus alone is God. He is holy, his name is holy, he is forever holy, he is perfect. Song of Songs 4:7, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.”

The rebellion spread. The originator of the rebellion was Lucifer. The rebellion is sin. It spread like a plague and infected other angels and later our species long ago. It is choice based. It is a spiritual plague that causes spiritual death. And from there it oozes over into our biological parts and causes death in our bodies and our natural world. It is wickedness. And God will destroy all sin. He will destroy the rebellion. There is no Biblical mistake on Hell and the lake of fire. It exists. God made it. It is horrific. He is going to throw Satan and his angels into the lake of fire one day (yes, there is a difference between hell and the lake of fire). And he is going to throw every single person who was never in him into the lake of fire. Where there will be eternal death, torture and pain. That’s Biblical.

[I’ve actually read and heard several arguments that human torment in hell is temporal, not eternal. So if you’re planning on commenting on that, I’m serious here, you need to formula and address an alternative understanding of the phrase “εἰς αἰών.” Not just citing other people’s work and coming up with alternate English theories. We can talk OT Hebrew olam as well, if you disagree. As best as I can tell, it’s forever.]

I don’t think it’s PC or popular to talk about Hell in modern, mainstream Christianity these days. It’s definitely not popular to talk about with the secular world. It’s just not. It’s an uncomfortable subject to address, some people have extreme emotional reactions to it, some people in the church shut down over it. It’s volatile. But we have to have a healthy, holistic perspective on the Truth, the Word of God. The Truth doesn’t just alter itself. As John Eldredge wrote, “Just as there is a way things work in the physical world, so there is a way things work in the spiritual realm.” Subjective spirituality is just not true. We live in an objective, realistic spiritual world and we have to come to terms with that fact. Hell is an objective place that exists. When we view it in a lens of two kingdoms at war with each other and the loser, which we know is Satan’s kingdom, will be throw into Hell and that there is no Switzerland in this war, you cannot be neutral.

Once God judges someone and they are in hell, there is no redemption. Salvation is lost. Dante’s words are so apt here, you must abandon any hope of leaving this place. It is a place of insanity, of pain and suffering. As Peter Kreeft , the Catholic writer and philosophy professor at Boston College, writes, “We desperately need to hear this truth about hell again, simply out of honesty, because it is there. And also out of compassion. For when an abyss looms ahead, the least compassionate thing to tell the traveler is “peace, peace, when there is no peace”. Out of love for God and man, let us tell the truth about hell! Sure, we’ll be mocked as vindictive, manipulative, or fundamentalist. Let it be so. It’s a small price to pay for the salvation of a single infinitely precious soul. And that is the business we’re supposed to be in” (read his full article here, and then check out his other work  because he’s an amazing theologian).

We have to come to terms with this is an us vs them war. We are at war with sin. We are at war with Satan. We are at war with evil. And we will fight it and destroy it, it will be destroyed with the breath from our Lord Jesus’ mouth. One of our primary tasks of work during our stint in this world is to rescue others out of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ and walk with them through the process of daily redemption through the Holy Spirit. Hell is the objective endpoint for those who are not saved through Jesus, through the cross.

As Kreeft said, we should be motivated here out of compassion and as Jude said, “save others by snatching them from the fire.” (Jude 1:23). We are rescuers, bringers of light in dark world to save others going into the fire. Our Light is Jesus, and we rescue through the Spirit. And our job is of the utmost importance, it should be apart of our regular work. This is why we are “in the world.” We are “not of the world” because we are apart of God’s Kingdom, not Satan’s, not the secular world. We are his children, his beloved, that is our identity. Don’t ever forget it, even for a second, don’t blink on it, “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) He knows God’s ultimate power now firsthand, he has lost in battle. The Father beat him down, he wrecked him in battle, as Jesus recounted of the effect of his Father’s fury, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” Make no mistake, he is omnipotent. And he will destroy the rebellion, he will destroy sin, he will destroy everything not apart of his Kingdom.

Stay close to our Beloved, my sisters and brothers. It is dark and evil outside. But God’s Spirit and his light shine brightly within you. Where, as John of the Cross said,

How gently and lovingly
you wake in my heart,
where in secret you dwell alone;
and in your sweet breathing,
filled with good and glory,
how tenderly you swell my heart with love.

Joel

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26 thoughts on “Hell

  1. When I was younger I was taught about Purgatory but I had a Sister (nun) who taught in my second grade class 😂 that Purgatory didnt exist. I personally dont believe in purgatory but I think the confusion is set due to the Book of Enoch and others. When ever somebody asks me my thoughts on Hell, I just say I err on the side of caution and live like this is the only chance.🤔👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see someone reading the book of Enoch and maybe thinking that. I don’t either believe in it. It’s an odd concept without a lot of basis in the word. I guess since I do believe in sola scriptura, the support for purgatory falls off a lot versus some catholic theology. And amen, live like it’s the only chance. I like that 🙂

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  2. Wow! That’s a post! Well said! i agree wholeheartedly. Our culture has gotten so soft and worried about offending…it’s a PC culture. Worse than I’ve ever seen. Even in church you don’t hear it. We hear of Gods love but who cares about that good news if unless you’ve heard the bad news first. I have always thought that the message of Jesus and his redemptive works will mean nothing if you don’t first know the depth of sin and our own falleness. Until we realize we all deserve hell that’s when the gospel means everything.
    Awesome post! And also convicting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 I really appreciate that. Amen to everything you said here. We don’t get it, we don’t get how far we have fallen and how badly we need Jesus, how the cross is our only hope for reconciliation to God. There is no other way except the cross. And we can only get that if we see what we really deserve, hell. Amen, great thoughts! Hope you have a great day!

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  3. So true! I think one of our enemy’s most subtle moves lately is to twist the concept of love… Actual, genuine love looks out for the best interests of the beloved, which in spiritual terms means “speaking the truth in love,” because the eternal destination is so much more critical than the rather shaky temporal happiness or comfort here and now. I think that fact is often forgotten today and the current idea of “love” is more about what makes the beloved happy or comfortable rather than thinking in the long-term. But we really don’t have that luxury as Christians, do we? We absolutely must think with eyes on Eternity.

    It’s also worthy of note that God doesn’t necessarily send people to hell — they choose it. He set it up for the initial rebellion and since sin and holiness simply do not mix, He in His graciousness has offered us all a choice — a way out of eternal damnation through His incredible sacrifice. If it wasn’t so important, I sincerely doubt He would have sent Jesus to die in such a brutal, horrifying way.

    Yet He does allow us to choose whether to accept Christ’s sacrifice and His Lordship or choose our own way. Just as Moses plead with the people after laying out the law in Deuteronomy 30, so God still pleads with us out of the depths of His love today: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days. . . (Deu 30:19-20a). I love that passage because it reminds me of how deeply invested in our choice to love Him God really is. The word done on the cross is the absolute epitome of love… Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. 😉

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    1. Well said! I think the Deut 30 verses really mix well here. And especially your point on, if this wasn’t important, if there was another way, there’s just no way our Father would have sent Jesus to die the way he died. No way. He was practically begging our Father to find another way in Gethsemane, but of course he said, your will be done.

      So much of our lives here is choice based. Have you noticed that? God places an incredible weight on our choices. I can stymie God’s day to day progress of redemption in me by dragging my feet on things he wants me to do. I can choose that. I can also choose to run into his arms and his plan for me and see growth. We choose.

      Ok, so I have to ask you here, I’d like to take the conversation over to Romans 9 and 2 Peter 3:9. I think this mixes well with Deut 30:19-20. Free will vs predestination. What are your thoughts? How do you reconcile these three passages to come to a correct view on what is going on in our world between God and humanity. I have some thoughts myself, I’ve thought about this a lot in the past, and have a crazy theory on it. But would love to hear what you think, if you have any thoughts at all.

      I really enjoyed reading what you said on genuine love. It’s true. Because genuine love includes honesty, it includes truthfulness, and it doesn’t trade off short term comfort for the truth. It doesn’t placate people because it looks out for their good, their eternal good, not just their good for the next week or month or year. We don’t have that luxury as believers. We are spiritual beings, where spiritual is more real than physical, the physical is a faded shadow of our spiritual bodies; we’re spiritual beings on a mission for the Kingdom in this fallen, toxic physical world. We live in seeds, physical seedlings of our spiritual bodies to come and this world is toxic to the seeds. The spiritual air here is toxic to our souls, we have to make sure we breathe in Christ always otherwise we inhale sin, Satan’s spiritual plague. And here we are on a dying world, a plague infected world and we are essentially on a rescue mission, in love, through Jesus and through the Cross, in the Spirit, in our Father’s omnipotence, while at the same time undergoing our own transformation into perfect image bearers of Jesus as his beloved. It’s a lot to have on ones plate, it’s the biggest commitment one can ever have, ever. But we do it. And we have to speak honesty to those who are unsaved, but we do it in God’s love. Sorry, I got a little poetic there lol. It’s a great, incredible, epic story we live in. I’m so excited to be apart of it 🙂

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      1. I like the way you put it! Very true — we are in what C. S. Lewis called “enemy occupied territory” on a mission to sabotage the enemy’s plans and rescue souls for the true King!

        OK, Romans 9 and all those… I have thought a ton about it, too (and it came up in our group in the first chapter of Ephesians). Basically, that is one that I kind of chalk up to my finite, created mind only being able to dimly grasp the spiritual truth. Human language and words are likely not enough to express it… and along those lines, I think it is difficult to express the omnipotent knowledge of the Almighty in human terms. As a faulty illustration, as parents we can often know with fair certainty what decisions our children will make in certain situations. However, our knowing that does not make them make the decision — we just already knew they would. Again, a leaky illustration, but if God knows a word completely before it’s even on our tongue as Psalm 139:4 says, then He can’t help but know our choice concerning Him before we do. BUT, as I told my community group, even if I am wrong and all these bits of Scripture are but a gallant attempt to express an unimaginable, infinite spiritual truth in finite human terms; even if God does do whatever He wants with His creation, who am I to say, “That isn’t fair?” He is GOD. We are His creation. All of this is His creation. What He does is just and right and good because He, as Creator, gets to determine those things. That’s a little hard to swallow for some people, I suppose, but for whatever reason I don’t worry about it much. Oh, I’ve had my words with God — kind of like Moses, actually — but I feel free to do that in a bad moment because I know He is my Father and doesn’t stop loving me when I lose it and ask Him, “Why???” And the funny thing is, when I’ve calmed down and am more reasonable, He usually shows me anyway, even if it is not for many years. So ultimately, I guess, I just trust Him enough to let it go at my best effort at explaining it! 😉 I look forward to the great Day when all this struggle is over and, as one friend said, we will have Eternity to get to know an infinitely unknowable God!

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      2. Love that! Good stuff, I am heading to sleep, because I am exhausted lol. Let me respond tomorrow in full here, because I have some thoughts I want to share. I really liked your response here, especially the part you had on parents knowing how their children will act. We actually discussed this question in our coffee group today too 🙂

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      3. First a disclaimer, I can’t prove this. I’m not saying it’s true, it’s just my best attempt at reconciling Romans 9 and 2 Peter 3:9. So chew up the meat, spit out the bones basically here. Also pushback and critique my line of thinking too if you see something wrong with it or contradictory, I’m just putting for my best effort to date on this one.

        In my ‘reconciliation of passages theory,’ there three categories of people.

        The first is the category predestined to glory. These people will be saved and they will end the race well. They might not be Christians their entire lives, but they will, at some point along their life line in 4 dimensional space and time accept Jesus and they will be glorified and spend eternity with Jesus. They might choose at times to waver off and on the straight and narrow, but Jesus’ grace is enough and they end up back on the Way. These are the ones in John 17:6-19 (reading it as expanded from not just the disciples but all the category 1). They are firmly rooted in Christ.

        The second category is predestined to destruction. These people, in the end, will reject Jesus and will be destroyed. They may look and or act in very diverse ways in their behavior, but their main purpose was for God to bear “with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction… to make the riches of hi glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory” (Romans 9:22, 23). They will be destroyed for this purpose. Pharoah is a perfect example of this one. No matter what he did, it was exodus 9:12. Either he hardened his heart or God did. He was going down, it seemed, regardless of his own choice.

        The third category is the choice based group. These are ones who are neither predestined to heaven or hell (of course if they aren’t saved in Jesus they are objectively choosing hell, but the choices play a more pivotal role in determining where they go), but are instead the vast battle ground of hearts where the spiritual war is primarily fought.  This is the 2 Peter 3:9 group. The believers that come out of this group are synonymous with the group Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-23. They are the ones we are striving for and fighting for.

        Now, I think God is patient with all three categories so that none may perish, but knowing the hearts of category 2 because they are objects of wrath, he uses tpatience to illustrate to us, category 1 and witness to those in category 3, the riches of his grace.

        Maybe my version is just a more philosophically worded version of what you had as an analogy as parents we know how our children will behave in given circumstances. There’s a lot more to reconcile on mine, but it’s my best first pass at reconciling it.

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      4. I can see that, too, really. I truly do think that it is not expressible in human words because it is so far above and beyond anything in our experience. Like Ephesians 6:10 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood…” I guess for me in the end, I always go back to the fact that God is God and whatever He does is just and good. So it easily could be as you describe, but you may be right: we may be saying the same thing in different ways. 😉 I like how you said that He knows the hearts of the second group… it makes me think about Rev. 6:15-17 in which there is a group of people who, even to the very end, would rather have the mountains fall on them than come face to face with God and repent. Of course, I could be interpreting that incorrectly, but it’s just the way I think of it.

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      5. That’s a really good point from the 6th seal…I never thought about it like that. They don’t repent there, but only ask to be hidden from him. Wow. I feel like we’re finally at that point now in our society where I can see that happening. 10-20 years ago, when something really bad happened, it seemed like this nation’s heart was drawn back to God for his protection and healing. If we got nuked tomorrow, this people will not have a change of heart back to Jesus, they just won’t. I think from a heart perspective, we’re getting closer to the Tribulation. Matt 24:12, ” Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.” It’s sad to watch.

        So this came up between us and some friends today…are you all planning on doing any type of prepping for the tribulation? Since I changed to a prewrath, I don’t think the rapture will happen until chapter 7 of Revelation, so after the 6th seal is broken. There’s a lot that goes down in the first 6 seals, probably WW3, a plague that kills 1/4th of the world’s population, market crash for the lower and middle classes, massive earthquake, pretty bad stuff. I think we’re getting closer now (though we may still be years away from it) and my wife and I are starting to have the conversation of maybe putting in some capital with our friends as far as food storage, security, enviromental, etc.

        We definitely don’t wrestle with flesh and blood. We live in such a beautiful world but Satan has just overrun it with sin, the demonic, and inflamed the rebellious human heart. I just want to rescue who I can now! We’re on a rescue mission, while protecting our loved ones and seeing them flourish in our Father. It’s interesting days! Good days to give God glory in our eork for him. Our God is always greater though!

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  4. Agreed. As for if we are prepping for the tribulation, I guess not really a lot. I did fire a gun for the first time last Friday, which was new for me. Apparently, I did pretty well. Other than that, we have a small garden and fruit trees that don’t actually have enough care, but overall we both tend to think that if the tribulation happens, we may just have to trust God in the midst of it, anyway. I can see a black market opening for food for those who reject the mark that we will need to buy and sell in the world system.

    We also have friends who have various skills (including hunting and processing their own meat), so we have talked a little about how we can pool resources if it came to that. But we haven’t really felt led to do anything more than we are doing except maybe get some chickens! My sister and her husband have most of that in place already, and my husband is driven to get out of debt completely (meaning house and all). I suppose that could be why, though I have never thought of it in those terms before. I mean, he is really very much compelled to be entirely debt-free, though it will take a while and God’s provision! We have talked about going to pool resources with my sister and BIL if it came down to it. They have 12 acres with two houses on it, one of which they currently rent. So, I guess in a little bit of a way, we have but mostly we feel that it will come to trusting God day by day anyway, no matter how much we prepare.

    You are so right — He is always greater!!

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    1. We’re similar, we have a couple families who are really into it and I’ve thought the same thing…maybe God put it in their hearts to care for us as well. One family that we are close to is really set up for it, they have a small farm, 10 acres, way out in the country and most everything else one would need for a small community to live off of and be self sufficient for several years.

      It’s like with the election issue…at this point, there are huge spiritual forces moving these political parties and as they fight it out, God’s timing is not going to be disrupted one bit. But, who knows…maybe one of the people elected will be part of the antichrist’s empire? We just might be really, really close.

      My wife fired our shotgun earlier this year, I might have to get her something a little more handy for her lol. She was cute with it though!

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      1. It is entirely possible! I would not be surprised to see events escalate very quickly from here on out. Then again, I would also not be surprised at a turning of the tide and revival. Either are entirely possible with the Lord, although I do tend to think this world is pretty close to reaching a sort of critical mass as far as evil and rejection of God’s standard of truth.
        I haven’t fired a shotgun or rifle yet. Ours was just a handgun, but it was pretty easy to work with for me! I think a shotgun might be tough to handle for a smaller person like myself.

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      2. That’s a really good way to word it! Critical mass. Agreed, I could see it switching either way, but it just seems like their is so much momentum swinging toward sin in this country. It’s sad. I’d love to see revival! It would be wonderful 🙂

        That’s neat! My wife liked the handgun much better. She really liked shooting our friend’s ar, it had virtually no kickback and was very easy for her to shoot. She feels the same way, she’s not very big herself and it just was a lot for her to handle.

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      3. I think we’ll see a sort of revival even if persecution comes our way. Historically, the gospel thrives in places and times of persecution. However, the climate is certainly more hostile to the gospel. Even in Hitler’s time, being affiliated with Christianity was well looked upon. There may have been plenty of lukewarm Christians who were too willing to compromise with the Reich, but it wasn’t ridiculed — at least not at first.
        I can totally agree with your wife on gun size. Sometimes bigger is just bigger!

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      4. That’s a good point! It could really be a time to bring in new people to the family of God. I get concerned about the deception in 2 Thes 1 & 2…it’s going to be strong so that they won’t believe. It will be a hard time no matter what, but could really be a time for us believers to shine God’s light.

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      5. I think we’re already seeing some of that deception, honestly, especially in 2 Thes. 2:12 where it says something about being condemned with those who did not believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness. There is a lot going on right now that would easily fall into that category.

        Wanted to share something interesting with you. One of the older gentlemen in my community group (he would be probably in his 60s) shared that one of his grandchildren had a social studies assignment concerning chip implants for people. I can’t remember all the specifics (it may not have even been social studies), but basically the assignment was to write out how they would convince someone to accept a microchip implant! We had a moment of pause over that one.

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      6. Oh wow. I like how you worded that. ‘We had a moment of pause over that one.’ Do you think the mark will be a chip implant? I think it’s a good possibility. I heard a crazy theory that the Greek letters for 666 actually was John writing down symbols which were Arabic symbols…even crazier (literally) was how a guy that is friends with a friend of my tutor disproved that theory and it wasn’t through Greek linguistics, it was forgery of documentation lol. I’ll have to write out in detail at sometime.

        It’s sad, the world is so deceived. Satan the father of lies is so good at deceiving people. But then again, Jesus called us sheep! We just have to listen for our Shepherd’s voice only. The world just has this unending thirst for more and more sin, whatever it can get to numb the ache inside of being a fallen species.

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      7. That is the truth! My prayer lately has been, “Lord, let us hear ONLY Your voice!” I’d love to hear the theory when you have time to write it out. But yes, the world is terribly deceived. I was too, once — something our God has been reminding me of lately. It helps me maintain perspective. Have a fabulous weekend!!

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      8. Agreed, I can see it. The whole thing about buying and selling has to have something tied in with technology. And the microchip implant makes sense with that whole thing.

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