There was an old fellow living up in the hills and he had lived a full but not exactly saintly life and now was on his deathbed. He called his weeping wife to his side and said, “Sara, go to the fireplace and take out the third stone from the top.”
She did as instructed. “Reach in there and bring out what you find.” Her fingers touched a large Mason jar, and with some effort she pulled it up. The jar was full of cash.
“Sara when I go, I’m going to take all that money with me. I want you to put that jar up in the attic by the window. And I’ll get it as I go by on my way to heaven.”
His wife followed his instructions and that night the old fellow died.
After the funeral his wife remembered the Mason jar and went to the attic. There was the jar still full of money and by the window. “Oh,” the widow sighed. “I knew I should have put it in the basement.”
Those who hold to a non-literal view of hell typically question the inspiration and authority of God’s Word. From this position come three views of hell which are absolutely un-biblical, yet seem to be favored by many in society today. What is horrifying is that some Christians claim to hold to these views also.
The first position is known as the “Second Chance” view. Individuals who hold to this view believe that even after death there is still a way to escape the torments of hell. The writer of Hebrews indicates something totally different, note:
Hebrews 9:27 (ESV) And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
The second heretical position is known as the “Annihilationism” view which teaches the cessation of existence upon death. The idea is body and soul are destroyed as a consequence of sin and therefore there is no sense of consciousness. In essence hell becomes an eternal incinerator that destroys all that enters. The Scriptural teachings on the two types of resurrection reveal this to be a false belief in hell. Note this passage from the Gospel of John:
John 5:28-29 (ESV) Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
The third position is known as the “Universalism” view. Those who hold to this view believe all are eternally saved. This is also known as the “Sooner or later all will be saved theory.” This view promotes a perverted view of God and His love. The argument many of you have heard before goes something like this, “Because God is a God of love He would never send anyone to hell, and this type of punishment is far too severe for man’s sin.”
There are actually two forms of this view. The older position teaches that after a period of temporary punishment salvation would come to the individual. The newer position states that all of mankind is already saved even though most have not come to the realization of their salvation. In essence this is the view Rob Bell wrote about in his book “Love Wins.” Note the words of Christ in these two verses:
John 3:16, 36 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. … 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Society as a whole may not like the idea of a literal hell or of a God that would condemn one to a place of eternal torment, but frankly it doesn’t matter if society approves of this position because the truth of God’s Word is unchanging. One cannot logically separate God’s love from His judgment because of the reality of sin and the price that must be paid. God is a loving God which is why He provided a way out of hell through the sacrifice of His Son Christ Jesus.
There is a fourth and right position known simply as the “Biblical” view. During the Olivet Discourse Christ Jesus teaches on end-time events, and it is during this discourse He makes the following statement concerning those who are lost:
Matthew 25:41 (ESV) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Here’s another reality check. If you’re reading this and you do not know Jesus the Christ as your Savior and Lord then the best you can ever expect is the life you have today upon this earth. What awaits the lost person is something that I would never wish upon even my worst enemy. Note the following passage:
Luke 16:23-26 (ESV) and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’
One, to object to a biblical view of hell is to demean God and taint His Character. By somehow suggesting that God is partial is to question His sovereignty and goodness. And to suggest that God’s Word is a contradiction would be to taint His character and call Him a liar.
Romans 2:11-12 (ESV) For God shows no partiality. 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.
Two, all can be assured that the reality of hell will never diminish God’s love for humanity. Truthfully the reality of hell actually magnifies His love. For some this may seem illogical but let’s look at the words of Christ again.
John 3:17-18 (NASB) "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
2 Peter 3:9 (NASB) The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.