Is there really a hell?
Not one of my favorite topics - still it is a FREQUENTLY asked question, due to the morbid fascination we have for it, and of course, fear.
Images of hell are always terrifying: fire and brimstone, torture and despair, monsters and goblins, bagpipes and banjos, broccoli three meals a day for all eternity. SOUND HORRIBLE!
But the worst thing about hell, according to the church - is that its a state of separation from God. You see, that's what makes hell hell. We're separated from God there.
But remember what the definition of sin is? Its when we separate ourselves from God.
Notice a connection here? It seems that we are IN HELL whenever we sin, at least to an extent. The great thing about it is that God will forgive our sins if we repent. So hell, then, would be final separation from God, when repentence is no longer possible.
But how can a loving God send anyone to hell? That's the question I'm asked most often.
The answer is that, because God loves us, he gives us free will.
SO, because he loves us, he's not going to FORCE US to be with him.
As such, there must be an alternative to being with God - therefore there must be a hell.
But - maybe no one is IN hell.
I'd like to think this is so. I know many would agree.
I also know there are many people who, when they think of the Hitlers and Bin Ladens out there, would strongly DISAGREE - but Jesus made himself very clear when it came to such as these - leave the judging up to God.
Personally I think we have to be motivated to be a Christian by something more than just fear of going to hell. If we're Christians just to stay out of hell, then when you think of it, we're really kind of selfish, aren't we?
Nonetheless, when the Bible talks about hell, I think its a way of reminding us that being separated from God - its kinda horrible. Much better to be with him.
Afterall, God doesn't want ANYONE to be in hell. He'd rather we were with him.