In our day, the phrase “go to hell” is thrown around flippantly in anger. It is common for many to joke they are “going to hell” for something they said or did. Without a doubt, culture has done much to desensitize us to the brutal and horrific reality of Hell. We’ve allowed forces outside the authority of God’s Word to convince us the Bible doesn’t mean what it says. And we’ve allowed this to happen to the point Hell is now a joke at worst or at best a casual curse.
Going to Hell is not a trivial phrase, it is the most pressing and urgent subject we need to address as followers of Jesus. Since Christ doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell (2 Peter 3:9), we should spend our lives doing everything we can to keep every person we meet from going to Hell.
There has been much debate in recent years, and indeed to a lesser extent for hundreds of years, about the reality of Hell. Some say the language in the Bible about a fiery pit and horrible anguish is metaphorical. They say Hell isn’t really a lake of fire, it’s merely “like” a lake of fire; a loving God wouldn’t send people to a place where they will burn forever. It always amuses me when a human being – any human being – supposes to tell us what God is like. You have to wonder, how do they know? Apart from what is revealed to us all through Scripture about the holiness and character of God, no one can presume to tell us about the nature of God. The thoughts of the Creator are so far above and beyond our own we could never hope to comprehend them in a thousand lifetimes! (Isaiah 55:8-9; Ecclesiastes 8:17)
I can’t tell you for certain whether the descriptions of Hell in the Bible are mere imagery or a literal picture. Here’s what I do know: if the language is only meant to give us a picture of what hell is like, we know it will be far less than pleasant! You don’t describe a beautiful beach resort as a place of eternal gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42)! Whether it is literal or metaphorical, Hell is a place you don’t want to find yourself spending a second of time, much less eternity!
Here’s what else I know: to be in Hell is to be permanently separated from God (Luke 16:19-31). This is devastating. God created you to live in community with Him. He created you in His own image (Genesis 1:27). This makes us inexplicably linked. We cannot escape the deep longing in our souls to be with Him and be like Him. When all the rebellion is done, when we come to the end of our lives, we will still long to be with our Creator. Many never admit to this. They keep God as far away as possible because to know God is to be accountable to Him. But we can never fully separate our innermost being from God. As His image-bearers, we will always desire to be with Him. In Hell, it will be too late. Those condemned there will never be able to be with God again.
Knowing all this, how is it we can be so nonchalant knowing our family, friends, and neighbors, are on a path straight to Hell? How are our hearts not broken by the lost surrounding us every day? How can we not be irresistibly compelled to tell them about Jesus? If it doesn’t bother you people are going to Hell, you’ve got the wrong picture of Hell! Don’t let culture and false teachers convince you Hell isn’t so bad. We cannot stand idly by while millions of people die each year, most of whom are going to Hell. Don’t let another day pass without sharing the hope of Jesus with someone you encounter. Who can you tell today?