You might think that there is a mistake in the title to this article. Based on books and movies we’ve seen in recent years shouldn’t it say “Heaven is for real!”? Although that is a true statement, so also is this one: “Hell is for real!”
Many people, even whole churches, in our world try to deny or ignore this truth. People don’t want to talk about hell. Many think that the discussion of hell makes God seem unloving. But do you know that actually it is the other way around? Without hell, you would have a less loving God. With it, you have a God who was willing to suffer for you, who was willing to die for you, and even faced hell for you. The depth of the punishment sets up the height of the gift.
To understand this though, we need to understand what hell is. To do that, look to what Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:41: “Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels!’” Notice who hell was prepared for! Hell was not created as a place for people. Rather, hell was created as a place for the Devil and his angels/demons. As we are also told in 2 Peter 2:4, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment.”
Hell was never created for humans. Yet, hell is filled with humans; and, not only that, but hell is filled with humans for whom Jesus died. How can that be? Because Jesus died for all! The Book of Hebrews says, “But now [Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). That same book also says, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). The second letter to the Corinthians also makes this clear, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Peter also assures us of this point when he wrote: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
Jesus died for all! Yet, not everyone will receive the benefit of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why not? Because they don’t believe in him. Jesus tells us, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Jesus also tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:16-18).
Even though hell was never created for humans, there will be a day when Jesus says to some humans, “‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ … Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:41,49).
Hell is for real! Hell is a place where no one wants to be! Hell is also a place where no one has to be! As shown above, Jesus died for all! Jesus won forgiveness for all! Jesus wants all to be saved! Therefore, don’t reject him. Don’t turn away from him. Instead, trust him. Believe in him. Know the comfort that Jesus gives, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3).
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