» Is the idea of eternal punishment for sin difficult for you? Why or why not?
» Who ends up in Hell?
» Why is it possible to know that your eternal destiny is heaven?
» Practice the memory verse.
“Those who go to Heaven ride on a pass and enter into blessings that they never earned, but all who go to hell pay their own way.”
- John R. Rice
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
- Jesus, Matthew 25:46
The reality of Hell is the most difficult and controversial of all Christian beliefs. Even those who are fully devoted to Jesus struggle to imagine an eternal destiny of damnation for any, having tasted the kindness and mercy of God for themselves. How can the God who loves the entire world possibly send a large portion of the world into an eternal Hell?
This line of reasoning focuses accusingly on the character of God, and not at all on the character of the condemned. Personally, I have little trouble embracing the idea of punishment for injustice. I more struggle to understand why God does not damn us all. The shocker is not that some people will end up in Hell, it is that not everyone will. His gracious invitation to eternal life is extended to all, for the Son of man did not come into the world to condemn it, but that, through Him, the world might be saved. (John 3:17)
What exactly is Hell? It is a place completely void of the Presence and goodness of God, where no one bows to His authority or embraces His grace. Anywhere this reality exists, there will certainly be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and the only way to end up there is to reject God: reject His authority, reject His gracious suffering for your sin, and refuse to bow your knee to His rule.
You only end up in Hell if you exercise the free will God graciously allotted to you by choosing to have nothing to do with Him. In other words, if you end up in Hell it is because that is precisely what you chose - a place without the rule of God. You will have gotten what your self-absorbed sins deserved and your rebellious heart desired.