Many sceptics and atheists target the very idea that since God is both loving and good, there would be no such reason that He can endure watching people swimming in the lake of fire forever.
Since God is forgiving, merciful, gracious, loving and good, it would be in a total opposition to His character when He executes such horrible punishment.
Other professing Christian groups and cults today such as Jehovah’s witnesses, deny the very existence of a conscious tormenting condition in hell.
They substitute hell with the doctrine of annihilation. They don’t believe on the Bible’s teaching about eternal torment, but changed it to a doctrine of annihilation that is not taught by the Bible itself.
Let us first look at the Biblical evidences on the reality of hell.
No matter how they call themselves as “of God,” anyone who does not believe, obey and teach the Word of God is not of the Truth. The Bible clearly confirms the existence of hell and has described it in lots of ways.
Take for example in Luke 16: 22-24 which states that “…the rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he said and cried, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water for I am tormented on this flame.”
We can observe in the text that the effect of the heat to his spirit is so great that caused him to feel tremendous thirst. This is obviously not a place of comfort, but a place of torment.
People who travel in the arid wilderness experience this kind of terrible feeling. The pain in this place produced a great amount of thirst.
The rich man also cried out that he was “tormented in this flame.” Clearly, hell is a place of conscious suffering. The rich man was in anguish that caused him insurmountable amount of distress. Fire is also a prominent representation of the severest pain we can ever know.
The exact features of this fire are surely not the same kind we have in this world because it is described here that it is “unquenchable” (Mark 9:44). Another features of hell that also go along with this unquenchable fire are worms that do not die (Mark 9:48), feeling of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28), and “outer darkness” (Matthew 25:30).
Looking at the Bible, there is no other person who talked about Hell more that Jesus Christ Himself did. Jesus spoke the most about hell that gives us a very clear picture of it. In fact, Jesus made hell Himself. He talked more about it than heaven.
At first, Jesus made hell for a good purpose. Hell was made for Satan and his demons. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus said “Depart from me; ye cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” As for God’s intention, hell is supposed be good because our great adversary- the devil, will be forever taken away from our presence.
But sadly, men had fallen into the same trap which the devil and his angels has fallen into. This is a bad and tragic truth for humanity.
Since the fall of man, the teachings of the truths of God are always unpopular to many. Man hates the light (John 3) and loves darkness, and so his heart naturally rejects the teachings especially those about sin and eternal consequence.
Audacious preachings and earth-shaking sermons about these hard truths are common to be labelled as “dogmatic close-minded opinions”. These truths are repulsive to the world and even inside many self-professing Christian churches.
Paul had prophesied that in the last days, people will “gather to themselves teachers having itching ears.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
By this, Christians and Pastors are solemnly forewarned by the grave consequences of not preaching the whole counsel of God. The True Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ must be preached because the days are evil.
Time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine; people will love sugar-coated messages and love tickling ears. Men should encounter and get to know the true God as how He reveals Himself in His Word.
Preachers who deny the Biblical God, deny the True God. When the Truths of God’s Word are neglected by preachers in man’s acquisition of the knowledge of God, the tendency is that people will be led to accommodating a “god” that is not the One revealed in His Word.
When this happens, they develop a false conception of God, and seek out a “god” of their own wants- but the Bible clearly labels it as “idolatry.” (Isaiah 46:5-8).
The cause for creating and worshipping a god of our own imagination corresponds to our lifestyle. Such want of men leads him to stay on a god that approves their vices and doesn’t go against them. He patronizes his own idols that love his own views.
Man “loveth darkness” because he simply hates the light. He hates the true light of the word because it exposes his sin. He loves sin and so he just creates a god of his own, other than the God of the Bible. He separates himself from the True God.
In Romans 1, man changes “the image of the incorruptible God to an image of an incorruptible man.” Man became bows down to the creature rather than the Creator, and so the wrath of God is revealed to Him.
You see, people miss the fact that God is not only a “God of love.” Yes, God is totally the real essence of love, He is love. He loves unconditionally, He loves the world, His compassion to the dying world is enormous, He is not willing that any should perish, He cries out to Jerusalem and laments their rejection of his care for them like a hen for her chicks, but nevertheless, God is a God of Holiness.
God is Holy, Righteous, and Just.
God possesses major characteristics that will never be compatible with sinners forever, and so the case for an eternal hell is justified.
In fact, no other attribute of God has been repeated three times in the Bible except the word “Holy.” God is not God of love only, He is God of highest Holiness, He is the Supreme Holy One.
And with this attribute of God, many people deny it or are ignorant of. The tendency of man is the have a superficial conception of God. By a shallow understanding of who God is, man will have a shallow knowledge of himself, the Word and everything around Him. Ignorance of the Word leads to destruction (Matthew 22:29).
That’s why the Gospel must be preached, the True Gospel. Without the true Gospel, there will be no such person as saved or born-again. Without the true gospel, there is no such thing as a real Christian, there is no real power.
- Man is powerless without the gospel, man is dead without it.
- He is unresponsive without it, he is enslaved to sin without its liberating power.
- He is a loser instead of victor, he is lost and not found.
- He is blind and he doesn’t know it.
A profound set of reasons which make hell reasonable is because of the attributes of God.
1. Hell is reasonable because of God’s Holy Character. God is holy, we are not.
“Holy, holy, holy.” Having these words in a repetitive manner, it denotes superlative notion to the idea of God being holy to uttermost.
He is separated from sin to the highest degree. Sin is so foreign to Him. His holiness is incomparable. He is the person who is the holiest and the highest in rank.
Because of this, sinners at their own credit can never be with God.
2. Hell is reasonable because God is infinite.
Because God is forever, without end, holy, perfect and pure, He cannot be with the impure sinner. God cannot be with a sinner because He is holy forever.
There will never be a time that God will stop existing as holy. There will not come a time where He is sinful. In fact, God is not bound by time because He is the One who created it (Genesis 1:2).
Both the eternal and holy nature of God are strong reasons that give evidence to the reasonableness of hell.
3. Because God is wrath
Psalm 7:11 speaks that “God is angry with the wicked everyday. (KJV)” Also in Romans 1, Paul starts his gospel message, not with love, but with wrath. It would be unreasonable to know a person and only his “good side” is accepted by people.
The same with God, it is not only for us to know His love, but His anger, wrath and hatred to sin. It would be a total denial of God if his other characters are not taken into consideration. Many Christians today only wanted to hear about God’s love but not His Holy anger. They are so consumed into accepting only what some verses reveal, but have not grasped the holistic approach to God’s Word.
Here are some Biblical life samples that were killed under the wrath of God:
- UZZA- 2 Samuel 6:6-7
- ANANIAS AND SAPPHIRA- Acts chapter 5
- NADAB AND ABIHU- Leviticus chapter 10
4. Hell is reasonable because God is good.
God’s goodness is not really total good news. It is a threatening truth. God is good and we are not. And what will a good God do to bad people? Well, out of His goodness, He punishes.
Take a police and let him deal over a criminal who committed a heinous crime. If you have taken a wicked police officer, the criminal will go unpunished.
Or if you have taken a wicked judge, he will be declared “not guilty.” God is not a corrupt policeman and thus His goodness leads to man’s rightful punishment – this is very logical truth.
5. Because of God’s justice
Because God is good, he gives justice. In fact, God is a good judge, a righteous judge. Let’s take a case about an issue about India’s rampant gang rape victims.
Reporters said that a woman is raped every 22 minutes in India. One of the most disturbing cases is when a gang rapes a helpless woman, tortures her and kill her -much worse if she is 12 years old.
Can you imagine what will happen to a country without a punishment? Or can you imagine a universe without justice? Since logic leads us to conclude that punishment is necessary and good, that is the same case God, but this time, we are the ones who are guilty.
People who cannot understand God’s righteous justice, cannot understand their own rightful punishment. Ignorance about the truth comes from the lack of knowledge of the Scriptures which results to the absence of genuine faith, and ultimately leads to man’s inability to understand his real situation and not being able to call upon the Name of the Savior.
6. Because of man’s misunderstanding of God’s love
God’s love was never meant to be God’s “naive ignorance” towards man’s offensive actions. His love is unconditional even man is in a continuous rebellion against Him. He “commendeth His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” His love enables wayward sinners to love Him in return (1 John 4:19).
Again, wrong thinking and knowledge of God makes us victims in having a twisted view of God. May these things not be true in our life. Without a proper understanding of the Word of God, man will be ignorant about God, or will have a twisted view of Him. Jesus Himself supported this when He said, “Ye are in error, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
Man’s view of God can only be corrected upon the sound teaching of God’s Word. The Gospel must be preached right, taught right, and lived right.
Remember, that the Scriptures are not only in the head, it submerges down to the heart and life of the person. A false teacher will be known because of his fruits. “By their fruits you shall know them.”
A teacher of a false gospel will produce a fruitless people, barren ones, powerless ones because there is no power if the Word of God is not preached.
To whom does God’s love apply then? – To those who are in Christ.
There is now no condemnation to those who are in Him. Salvation from sin and hell belong to the repenters, to those who believe.
Those whose heart of stone is taken away and a heart of flesh is replaced. God’s love belongs to those people who were born-again.