In Christian churches across America, the topic of hell has almost virtually disappeared. Even in evangelical churches the concept of hell is hardly ever mentioned any longer as many churches now consider the idea of hell to be "too negative" to preach from the pulpit.
A stunning new article from the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Hell losing its fire in American sermons" really got our attention today. It described how hell is literally vanishing from churches across the United States.
In the article, the Chronicle quoted Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at Denver Theological Seminary as saying this: "Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding."
Bill Faris, the pastor of Crown Valley Vineyard Christian Fellowship put it this way: "It isn't sexy enough anymore."
For those who are familiar with the Christian movement in America, this should not come as a surprise. The reality is that the trend is now for churches to focus much more on the quality of this present life than to consider what is going to happen in the next life.
But does hell actually exist?
Is it a real place?
Well, there is one gentleman who is telling people all over the United States that not only is hell real, but that he has been there.
Bill Wiese claims that he was given a 23 minute tour of Hell, and he is not shy about describing the absolute unspeakable misery that lost souls have to endure there.
Bill Wiese claims that he witnessed the searing flames of hell, felt total isolation, experienced the putrid and rotting stench of burning people, heard deafening screams of agony, and saw terrorizing demons.
At the end of Bill Wiese's experience, he claims that the strong hand of God lifted him out of the pit.
He also heard Jesus say: "Tell them I am coming very, very soon!"
It took him 1 year just to settle down from his experience. After his life changing ordeal, he spent seven years studying the Scriptures to find answers about what he went through.
Everyone is curious about the afterlife, and in the video linked to below, Wiese shares his insights to commonly asked questions such as:
* Is hell a literal burning place?
* Where is hell?
* Do you have a body in hell?
* Are there degrees of punishment in hell?
* Are there children in hell?
* Can demons torment people in hell?
* Can "good" people go to hell?
Before you dismiss the idea of hell, you should seriously watch this video.
But is it fair that some people are going to go to hell?
Have you ever thought about that question much?
It is an incredibly important question.
Is it really and truly fair that some people are going to hell instead of heaven?
Why not just let everyone into heaven and make everyone happy?
It's a fair question.
So what is the answer?
Well, one thing that we have learned through all these years is that God seems to really value the idea of meaningful choice.
So let's set up a scenario.....
Imagine that your sister was just raped and tortured brutally by some sick, twisted, perverted, arrogant man who had been doing the same thing to other women for years and years.
How would you feel if that happened?
It is quite likely that you would probably be enraged beyond belief. Your anger would probably be absolutely exploding inside of you. Your very soul would be crying out for justice.
But then you receive some good news......the rapist has been caught and he is going to go before the judge.
You feel (perhaps naively) that now you are going to get some real justice.
However, at the trial, the judge says to the rapist, "Well, you made a few little mistakes, but you are alright with me dude......let's go hit the bars. I need a drink. Case dismissed!"
How would that make you feel?
The reality is that evil deserves to be punished, and any judge that refuses to punish evil is a wicked judge.
What if God said to Adolf Hitler: "Ah I see you killed six million Jews, but I'm cool with that......come and let me show you around your mansion."
Would God say that?
Of course God would never say that!
The reality is that God is a God of perfect love AND of perfect justice.
Evil deserves to be punished, and God is certainly going to punish it.
Imagine if all the wicked men in high places today got away with their wickedness not only here on earth but in eternity as well.
Would that be fair?
Imagine if all child rapists got away with their wicked crimes and never received any punishment.
Would that be fair?
The truth is that most people raise this issue because they don't want to be accountable to God or anyone else.
The heart of this objection is that people do not trust God's punishment to be just.
Those who are guilty rarely think they deserve their punishment, while those of us on the outside looking in usually feel that the guilty deserve more punishment. Ask the majority of inmates in our prisons today.....very few of them would admit that they got what they deserved.
So what do we truly know about the coming punishment? We do know from the scriptures that there will be varying levels of judgement:
Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you."
So is your judgment going to be the same as that for Satan or for the person next to you? The scriptures seem to indicate not.
God is just, and we can trust God that all of his judgments will be perfectly just. We do not need to worry about that.
But the reality is that the Bible very clearly says that there is punishment for sin. Just consider the following piece of Scripture.....
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
So is there any good news?
Yes there is!
God is a God of perfect love and of perfect justice.
God loves you and Jesus took your judgment on Himself at the cross.
Jesus paid for all the sins of mankind through His death on the cross.
Being man, Jesus could die for the sins of men.
Being God, Jesus could die for an infinite amount of sins.
We all stand guilty before God, but out of His great love Jesus willingly died in our place and took our penalty for our sins.
What amazing love!
If you ask Jesus into your life, you can have eternal life in heaven with Him, and that is great news!
It is those who receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus purchased for us that will have eternal life in heaven.....
I John 5:11-13
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
If you would like to know how you can invite Jesus into your life and have your sins forgiven forever, then we would encourage you to check this out: