What’s the deal with Hell?

What is Hell really like?  This is a question I get from time to time from eager learners.

After watching Hollywood (and culture) depict Hell and Satan, many people are confused about what the Bible actually says about the place of eternal damnation. 

Let’s get a few things straight.

Hell is not red.  It’s also not underground in some reddish-glowing cavern surrounded by rivers of lava.  Hell is not at the center of the earth.

Hell is a real, physical place.  Scripture says Hell is a dark place, filled with wailing and gnashing of teeth.  It is a place of separation from God, where tormented souls cry out for eternity in rage, frustration, lamentation and anger.

Hell is not ruled by Satan.  Too often, we see the Devil sitting on some royal throne in Hell, dispensing punishment or concocting schemes to get ahead. 

Hell is ruled by God, as is all creation.  Scripture says Jesus holds the keys to death and Hell.  Satan is not a ruler in Hell, he is one of the beings suffering in everlasting torment.

Hell is not where Satan dwells.  He’s not hanging out to greet wayward souls as they come into his pit.  Hell is not his kingdom.

Earth is where Satan dwells.  Jobs 1:6-7 clearly establishes that Satan roams to and fro on the earth.  Scripture calls him the prince of this world.  Until the return of Christ, Satan is given temporary rule over the world and evil.  He doesn’t sit around hatching plans.  He actively participates in thwarting Christianity. 

Hell is not a fun place.  It’s not a party where you hang with your buds, listen to heavy metal or take daily whippings by the Devil and his demons. 

Hell is a desolate, lonely place, where you are very much aware of your separation from God for eternity.  It is a place void of love and care and all the characteristics of God.

Hell is not a place you want to be.  

Hell is a place you could end up.

Scripture is very clear.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We all sin.  That sin separates us from God.  That separation lasts for eternity.

However, Jesus came and died so you could have his righteousness – his perfection.  By following him, you get to have a relationship with God.  That, too, lasts for eternity.

Why does a loving God send people to Hell?  God cannot be in the presence of sin.  It is against his nature as a perfect, divine being.  Only by taking on the sinless Christ can we stand in the presence of a Holy God.  Only by our choice to follow Jesus can we experience the magnificence of heaven.

In a way, God honors our decisions.  If you choose to live apart from Christ, God honors your choice. He will give you that separation forever.  Separation from God means an eternity apart from heaven, love, care, grace, and joy. 

In the same way, if you choose to live with Christ, God honors your choice.  He will allow you to be in his presence forever.  You will get to be in a place without sin, taint, death, tears or pain.

The choice, however, is yours.

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Wayne Yeager is the pastor at Glasford Baptist Church in the small town of Glasford, Il. As a 12-year veteran of ministry, his experience comes from small, rural churches and congregations. Wayne is married to Sara and they have two children. Wayne attends Liberty Seminary, studying for a Masters of Divinity in Christian Counseling. You can follow Wayne's blog at http://wyeager.blogspot.com.

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