There are some people among us that think they can fly. People under the influence of drugs or just not thinking right that have simply jumped from a height only to find the reality of gravity is more real that their desire to fly. Merely wishing gravity away does not make it so. Investigating the matter from a more practical stand point, the Wright brothers flew by balancing the force of gravity with the lift from their aircraft. If they had ignored reality they would have died like the rest.
The Bible clearly reveals that hell is real. Jesus uses an example to explain his invitation in relational terms we can understand:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’ “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. “Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless. “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’” “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” —Mathew 22:2-14
In which role do you see yourself? The guest who rejected the invitation, or the guest who attempted to get in another way? Perhaps the guest, good or bad, that heard the call of his servants and accepted the invitation, and prepared properly to attend?
Jesus uses another example to explain the destiny people in the world:
“Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.'” —Matthew 13:36-43
What’s Hell Like?
God has given us examples of hell, faint echoes and pale shadows of the true darkness of hell. He chose to create us in a universe of opposites, down to the atoms with pluses and minuses, darkness and light, hot and cold. He created us with the very ability to understand opposites. Logic demands there is true and false, being in His Presence and not in His Presence. The Bible shows hell is like this. We can not fully understand hell just as we can not fully understand Heaven from our current earthly realm. Both are far beyond our capability to imagine, but He gives us analogies.
Some people have a hard time understanding how a loving God would send people to hell. I’ll discuss more on this in a moment. Rob Bell, a popular pastor and author, has been recorded as saying, “This is the real problem with when people say, ‘Well, when you take away hell, then aren’t you taking away people’s motivation?’ The best thing about God, is that you don’t do that. Like, I married my wife not because I didn’t want to be with some other woman; but because, when I encountered her I couldn’t imagine living without her.” There is some truth in that. Christ embodies amazing love, and I can not imagine living without God. Living without God would be hell. (Ah, another pale shadow of the truth shown in our marriages and relationships.) To lose the respect and love of the one you love is torment. People today end their lives over less, attempting to escape this pain. Being in the Presence of God — to be right with God — forgiven and loved by the all powerful Creator is beyond our range of understanding right now. So is hell, its too horrible to imagine. So God uses examples we can understand — weeping and gnashing of teeth, torment, darkness — which are pale shadows of the reality of God’s absence.
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” —Revelation 20:11-15
Where is Hell? (Spoiler Alert!)
The movies often try painting visions of apocalyptic struggles shadowing what may come . . . In The Avengers an apocalyptic struggle against evil aliens is suddenly brought near through an open portal above New York City which goes to the other side of the universe. Horrific beasts spew forth brought by brotherly revenge as Loki sought power — even evil power — to force humans, beloved by his brother Thor, to kneel before him. Evil, ugly aliens in the dark reaches of space are glad to help, or rather use Loki desires for their own ends. They too want an unexplained source of power, the Tesseract, that had fallen to earth. In fact, it seems everyone wanted this power and was willing, if necessary, to kill for it. Thor takes Loki back to their planet by using the power source. But where did the evil come from? Visually evil was ugly, dark and greedy, far away then suddenly near. As amusing as The Avengers is, one truth in the movie is that evil is as near as each heart seeking god-like power rather than God, Himself. You suddenly find yourself aligned with evil and against God in an apocalyptic war.
It will get very bad in the days to come, but it is no hell. You may have a dark day and not see the way out, but its not hell. The reality of hell is as bad as the absence of God, the absence of love, the absence of grace and mercy. The absence of light and Truth. To take your life in your own hands, to turn from God, and reject His power; to deny his Truth, reject Christ and what He says, His rescuing hand, is not moving towards him but away. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8). That’s where hell lies, away from God. The earth will be remade and Satan evicted and cast into the abyss forever. You don’t want to be in hell.
“All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God, and do not obey 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 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” —2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Who Goes to Hell? Why Would a Loving God Let Hell Exist?
Someone who does not want to be with God, or someone wants to follow other gods, would not be happy to be with God. The Lord has provided a place for them away from Him, as they wish. No one is in Heaven is their against their will. No one is forced into loving God. God is love and wants you to be in love with God, but He will not force you.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” —Psalm 34:14-15
We like to think that bad guys are forgiven and that really bad, bad guys go to hell. As the wedding parable demonstrates, good and bad guys are saved if they want to be forgiven, agree with God, and believe what He says (Romans 10). He says follow Christ, repent and turn to the light and away from the darkness. If you are not doing that, He is clear your destination is still the same direction as the bad, bad guy — destruction.
Just as in the wedding example you must be in wedding clothes to attend the party. You are invited, but there is something you must do — change out of your street cloths and let Christ give you a clean robe. Remember, God is perfect and you going to track up his carpet if you don’t get clean, too . . . Let me explain: If I take just a drop of water from the toilet and put it in your favorite drink, you would not want it. God is the same way. God is perfect and cannot stand to have anything less than infinite perfection with Him. He will not be associated with anything less. That leaves us with a problem — a big problem: if we are anything less than infinitely perfect, we are infinitely far away from God! This is not a 51% test of good deeds. The standard is infinite perfection, not by our standards but God’s (Romans 3:9-31). Only the infinitely powerful God could reach across the infinite distance that separates us and bring us to His Presence; not just from one location to another like the Tesseract, but spiritually from darkness to light. He does not bend the rules to do this. He pays the price justice demands — the price we could not pay. He cannot violate his own righteousness and justice, but loves us so much He pays the ultimate price for us. Love wins, but only for those who respond to God’s call. Evil loses. There are those who choose to come to God’s party, and those who choose not to come.
There is no in-between (Revelation 3:15-16) and there may not be another day for you to accept the invitation.