What you need to know:
- Evil doers do not want to believe in the reality of hell. They imagine that such an all-loving and merciful God cannot let anyone perish in hell. Yet, the Scriptures affirm the existence of Hell and its eternity. God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell.
“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.”- Matthew 25:41
Evil doers do not want to believe in the reality of hell. They imagine that such an all-loving and merciful God cannot let anyone perish in hell. Yet, the Scriptures affirm the existence of Hell and its eternity. God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell.
In the Kidron Valley between the Old City of Jerusalem and the Garden of Getsemane is located Gehenna. It was a place of continuous burning of waste was and of children sacrificed to the Ammonite god Moloch (2 Kings 23:10). Gehenna symbolized death, darkness, evil and eternal punishment for the wicked, after the last judgement. And Moloch symbolized Satan, whose intent is only to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:9). So, Jesus thought of Gehenna when he talked about Hell.
Hell could be said to be both the definitive expression of God’s justice. In his infinite wisdom, God did not create us as robots that can only choose the good. He decided to create us with the immeasurable dignity of a free, rational, spiritual, and therefore, immortal soul. We are free to either accept or reject God and His plan for us (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. If we misuse the gifts of freedom and love, by sin, and are not redeemed by repentance and God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion from eternal life, and earns us the eternal death of hell. This is called the second death.
Hell must not be conceived of as a kind of vengeance inflicted by God from the very nature of sin. God has given to man his entire lifetime on earth to make that irrevocable decision. The time for choosing is now in this life, but the choice we make will have eternal consequences. Our eternity is thus sealed at the time of our death!
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus speaks of a wicked rich man and a righteous poor man named Lazarus who had been a poor beggar. They died and went in the same place of the dead, but separated by a great chasm. It implies that in death, both the righteous and the unrighteous go to the under world. It is a place of suffering for the unrepentant and a holding place for the righteous. Jesus descended there too.
The Church warns against seeing heaven as a worldly sort of extension of life on this earth, so it is with Hell. It is unlike the reincarnation. The Church emphasizes that the chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs (Psalm 42:1). The pains of this separation arise from the inside out, not from the outside in. The torment in hell is also caused by the continual memories and regrets of one’s wrongdoings, including rejecting God and mistreating others.
Both heaven and hell are not “places” in the sense that the people there could “leave” and “return.” Inasmuch as these are states of being, “heaven” and “hell” are present wherever the saints and damned are.
In eternity there is no time, so the state of soul we are in when we die is the state of soul which enters eternity where there is no time. Thus we will either be in the state of grace in eternity, or in the state of damnation (rejecting God) for all eternity. We can avoid going to hell by obeying God and repenting from our sins (Luke 13:3-5).
In the bible
Gehenna in the New Testament, where it is described as a place where both soul and body could be destroyed (Matthew 10:28) in unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43).