Category Archives: Hell

Why Does God Not Give Justice to the Wicked?

Some wicked people do receive justice while they live. Think of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, as recent examples. They both were forced into hiding and died violent deaths. However, Job is correct that many sinful people seem to live a perfectly comfortable life and die peacefully.

If you are an atheist, the fact that evil people never face justice is a real problem for your worldview. Once a person dies, after all, there is no further chance for justice to be done. If you are a Christian, though, there is an afterlife and God promises that justice will be done.

So it is only in the Christian worldview that justice is guaranteed to be done for both the wicked and the righteous. God promises that each person will face the judgment seat and their thoughts and actions will be assessed by the Almighty Himself.   Whether a person receives justice during his earthly existence is, therefore, not the end of the story.

#6 Post of 2014 – Are Believers Judged After They Die?

Many Christians believe the answer to this question is “no.” Of course, they would be wrong. The New Testament clearly claims that all people, believers and unbelievers, are judged for their works after they die. Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, lays out the biblical evidence for this view. Alcorn describes the first judgment, after we die, as the judgment of faith:

When we die, we face judgment, what is called the judgment of faith. The outcome of this judgment determines whether we go to the present Heaven or the present Hell. This initial judgment depends not on our works but on our faith. It is not about what we’ve done during our lives but about what Christ has done for us. If we have accepted Christ’s atoning death for us, then when God judges us after we die, he sees his Son’s sacrifice for us, not our sin. Salvation is a free gift, to which we can contribute absolutely nothing (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).

Most Christians are aware of this first judgment, but forget about the second, or final, judgment.

This first judgment is not to be confused with the final judgment, or what is called the judgment of works . Both believers and unbelievers face a final judgment. The Bible indicates that all believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of their lives (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). It’s critical to understand that this judgment is a judgment of works, not of faith (1 Corinthians 3:13-14).

Alarm bells are going off in many Christian heads at this point. How can he say that Christians are judged for their works? After all, our faith in Christ is all that counts, not our works. Are we under the Law again? Why did Jesus die if our works matter? Read on….

Our works do not affect our salvation, but they do affect our reward. Rewards are about our work for God, empowered by his Spirit. Rewards are conditional, dependent on our faithfulness (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2: 26-28; 3:21). Unbelievers face a final judgment of works as well. The Bible tells us it will come at the great white throne, at the end of the old Earth and just before the beginning of the New Earth (Revelation 20:11-13).

Believers, then, are judged on the works they performed for God after becoming believers. The greater the faithfulness, the greater the rewards in Heaven. The Bible doesn’t offer easy-believism, the idea that you trust Jesus one day, and then continue living as you did before. That concept is totally and completely contrary to everything the Bible teaches.

A Few Questions About Hell – #10 Post of 2011

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Hell is an important doctrine of Christianity that seems to dismay many Christians and non-Christians, alike.  In a recent blog post, I recounted an example of a woman who is deeply disturbed by the existence of hell.  There is no way to give an exhaustive treatment of this subject in a blog post, but I wanted to make an attempt to answer a few basic questions about hell.

Question 1: Does God send people to hell without their choice?

Answer 1: No.  Those who go to hell after they die have made conscious decisions to reject the knowledge, the light, of God they’ve been given while alive.

Question 2: Do those in hell seek to escape once there?

Answer 2: No.  Hell is what they want, a place where they can be away from God and follow their own desires.  They may not like aspects of hell, but they would prefer to reign in hell than submit in heaven.

Question 3: Does God torture those in hell?

Answer 3: No.  If we are thinking of God inflicting physical torture, like a prison camp warden, the answer is “no.”  The torment that those in hell feel is the absence of a relationship with God.  Since all humans were made for this relationship, than those without it will certainly suffer.  This torment will be terrible, and nothing that anyone wants to experience, but those in hell desire something something that it is impossible for God to give – happiness without Him.

Question 4: Is there any chance that people in hell will repent?

Answer 4: No.  The door of hell is locked on the inside.  God knows each human heart through and through, and He knows that those in hell will never repent regardless of how much they are evangelized.  Hell is where God confirms the choices of those people who reject Him, a rejection that they will maintain forever.

Question 5: Is it fair for those in hell to be there forever?

Answer 5: Yes.  Remember, they will actively reject God forever, so their separation from God must also last forever.

Question 6: Is hell a punishment for those in it?

Answer 6: Yes.  In the sense that the people in hell are there because of their sinful actions, it is a punishment.  They are given what they deserve for their actions.

Question 7: Can those in hell be rehabilitated?

Answer 7: No. Because they will never repent of their rejection of God, they cannot be rehabilitated.

Question 8: Will God send anyone to hell who doesn’t deserve to be there?

Answer 8: No.  God is the ultimate standard of justice, so it is impossible for God to do anything unjust.  It would be the ultimate injustice for God to send someone to hell who would freely love him, so those who are in hell are justifiably there.  No mistakes are made.

I know that this brief Q and A only scratches the surface, but these are some of the most common questions I’ve seen.  I hope that they are helpful to you.

Would God Let Hitler in Heaven?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

I find that many non-believers are hopelessly confused about salvation by God’s grace.  This confusion was amply illustrated the other day on an Unbelievable? podcast when the atheist debater challenged the Christian debater with the following: “Isn’t it true that the Christian God would have allowed Hitler into heaven if he had repented and trusted in Christ on his deathbed?”

The  atheist questioner clearly believed that Hitler, based on his numerous evil deeds (I still don’t understand how atheists can say that Hitler did anything objectively evil, but that’s another issue altogether), did not deserve to be accepted by God, and the fact that the Christian God would accept Hitler under any circumstances was simply unacceptable.   He (the atheist) could never believe in a God that would let Hitler into heaven because justice would be denied if this were to occur.

One can sympathize with this point of view if we are dealing with the God of Islam, who weighs everyone’s good deeds and bad deeds on a scale to determine where they will spend the afterlife.  It is hard to imagine that Hitler could ever get into heaven under that system, but that is not how the God of Christianity works.

The Christian debater correctly pointed out that nobody deserves to be accepted by God, but that through Christ’s work on the cross, God will accept those who have placed their trust in what Christ did for them.  God will apply Christ’s atoning sacrifice to every person who desires it by dedicating themselves to their Savior.  Christ paid the penalty for all of mankind’s sins, including Hitler’s.  If Hitler had truly repented and trusted in Christ before he died, like the thief on the cross, he would have been welcomed into paradise by God.  There is no reason to believe that he ever did this, so this is a purely hypothetical exercise meant to illustrate a point.

That is why Christians are always talking about the grace of God.  God offers us eternity with him, but only because of Christ.  God knows that if a scale of justice were applied, every single one of us would be condemned for our thoughts and our deeds.  According to the Bible and to anyone who has really looked within their soul, we are a million miles away from the goodness that God expects of us.  The scale, after all, is calibrated to weigh our deeds against the standard of the righteousness of God.  Does anyone really believe they can stand before God on their own merit?

I thank God that I will never have to, and if you’ve trusted Christ, neither will you.

Should Anyone Be Punished?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Recently I met a woman in her thirties who had grown up Christian, but over several years, starting in her late teens/early twenties, she grew away from her faith and now considers herself agnostic (we’ll call her Judy).  She doesn’t know that God doesn’t exist, but she finds it very unlikely.

A couple of us in the discussion group asked her what some of the issues were that caused her to stop believing in Christianity.  One of the things she mentioned that most pushed her away from faith was the existence of hell.  She said that the concept of hell is so cruel that she simply cannot believe that a God exists who would allow hell to exist.

Here’s where it gets really interesting.  As we questioned her about why hell was so repulsive to her, Judy eventually revealed a critical belief which she holds: nobody should be punished.  Her view is that any person who commits a crime should be rehabilitated, not punished.  They should be given psychiatric treatment, medication, training, education, whatever it takes, to make them stop behaving in a criminal way.  As soon as they are “fixed” they should be released back into society.

The idea of punishing a person, without rehabilitation, was nothing but cruelty to Judy.  So, the idea of a place where people are punished for their crimes in the afterlife is simply a non-starter.  Since hell does not rehabilitate, but only punishes, she cannot accept it.

What I find so interesting about Judy is that her belief that nobody should be punished was foundational to her; it was one of her core beliefs.  Other people in our discussion group gave her scenarios where rapists or murderers were convicted of heinous crimes, and she stood firmly behind her beliefs.  Even murderers and rapists should not be punished, but rehabilitated.

We never had time to dig into how she came to hold this belief, but one thing was for sure: her belief that nobody should be punished was clearly more foundational to her than the existence of God.

As this was the first time I had ever heard someone give this reason for not believing in God, I wanted to pass it along.  What would you say to Judy?

Does God Send People to Hell? – #2 Post of 2009

Post Author: Bill Pratt

God wishes every person to avoid hell and be saved from it (2 Pet 3:9).  Christians do not believe God sends people to hell.  Hell is freely chosen by those who reject God.

God gave every person the power of free will and the most important decision we will make with that power of free will is whether to embrace or reject God.  Since heaven is a place where we spend eternity with God, then for those who reject God, there needs to be a place where they can escape him.

If you are a person who wants nothing to do with God in this life, then wouldn’t it be hell for you to be in heaven with God forever?

C. S. Lewis summarizes this issue well, as usual.  He says, “The door of hell is locked on the inside.”  All those who go to hell will to be there and to stay there.  He adds, “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.”

Why doesn’t God force everyone to ultimately choose him so that all people go to heaven?  After all, some might say, that is the right thing to do.

The problem with this solution is that God created free human beings, and if he forces them to do anything, then he is violating their freedom.  If God forces people to choose him, it comes down to a kind of “divine rape,” a coercion.  God’s love demands that he offer people a place where they can freely reject him, forever.