How Should I Be Thinking About Hell?
Series: Debated: Answering Hard Questions About Christianity
Pastor Jeff Dart

  • What does the Bible say about hell?
    • Matthew 5:22 is a key text.  Jesus talks about Gehenna.  Gehenna (Gk.) was a valley (“Valley of Hinnom” in English) that was used by pagan kings and Hebrew kings to make sacrifices.  The most popular sacrifices were child sacrifices to Molech.  King Josiah eventually tore down the pagan altars and turned this valley into a large, burning garbage dump (see 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2-6; 11-14; 32:35).
    • Heaven and hell are about relationship.  People go to hell because they do not know Jesus (Matt. 7:22; cf. John 17:3).
    • Hell is ultimately the separation of people from the presence of God (see 2 Thes. 1:8-10).
  • There are two choices people people: heaven or hell.  Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that the righteous will enter into eternal life and the wicked into eternal punishment.
    • Hell is for people who chose it.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
  • God’s final word on hell is the cross (see Rom. 5:8-11).  God has offered to us his Son because his desire is not for anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9).  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world.”  This shows us God’s great love for us, how much he loved us.

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Update: Make sure to see my follow-up post on some of my thoughts about hell and this sermon.

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One thought on “Sermon 5: How should I be thinking about hell?

  1. Oh, boy! Where to begin! Well, to answer your question (though I gather you meant it as a rhetorical one), you SHOULD think of it as the grossest perversion of Jesus’ teachings ever told!

    Sorry, but no one in their right mind “chooses” to get burned alive, and of the few nuts who do, anyone with an ounce of decency (some would say, the Holy Spirit in their hearts) would never stand idly by and say, “Oh, well, they deserve to suffer!”

    The fact is Jesus never said anything about sending people to Hell! The only way to hold to the belief that he did is to reject EVERYTHING he actually did teach about God’s true nature.

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, let me share one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

    If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

    So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

    True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.

    Bear in mind that the historical Protestant doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures applies only to the original autographs, not the copies. But sadly, the interpolations that made their way into those copies have provided a convenient excuse for a lot of people to get around following Jesus’ real message.

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