Five Myths About Hell: #4

Myths #1 - #2 - #3 - #4 - #5

Myth #4 Hell is the Absence of God

You've probably heard this myth as well. The worst part about hell, some people reason, is that you are alone. Hell is isolation, and since we are made for fellowship (with God and others) this is what makes hell such a terrifying judgment.

Of course, the truth is that there is no place our omnipresent God isn't. It isn't the absence of God that makes hell terrifying, it is his nearness that makes it so. Hell is not the absence of God, but the absence of his mercy and grace. Oh yes, God is present in hell to exercize perfect justice and judgment.

Our gospel confidence is that in Christ our sins have been atoned for, and we are at peace with God. In Christ we have the true and lasting intimacy with God we were created for. Therefore, the nearness of God is our good, and we can draw near to God as he sits upon a throne of grace and expect grace, not judgement.

Five Myths About Hell: #3

Myths #1 - #2 - #3 - #4 - #5

Myth #3 Hell is Temporary

Among those who take hell a bit more seriously we sometimes find the myth that hell is temporal, and not everlasting. The reasoning is often that hell is punishment for sins committed during at the most several decades, and that justice would prohibit everlasting punishment for crimes committed over the course of an earthly lifetime. After punishment has been met, whatever divine punishment demands, a person is either welcomed into heaven, or simply annihilated.

But, Scripture is pretty clear on the everlasting nature of hell. It is a place of eternal destructionpunishment, and fire. There is no work release program or hope of probation in hell.

We are created as immortal beings and will go on living after death in the presence of God and his grace, or experiencing his just and righteous anger. As incurable, habitual sinners we continue in our sin, lawlessness and idolatry even in hell-- and so judgment continues.

Hell is an everlasting judgment, and our only hope of escaping such a curse is by trusting in the One who became a curse for us. Those who are united to Jesus are set free from condemnation and find everlasting life.

Five Myths About Hell: #1

Over the years I have encountered a number of myths about hell attached to people's theology. Some are taken more seriously than others, but they are all active myths that bear bad fruit in people's lives. This is a brief, five part corrective.

Myths #1 - #2 - #3 - #4 - #5

Myth #1: Hell is a Place Where Satan Reigns

Many people think of hell as the place where the Devil reigns. It is viewed as his home, or castle, or fiery Bat Cave where he devises plans to destroy the church and rule the world. If it's not a war room, then it's some kind of dungeon where the Devil inflicts misery on those who have been sent there to suffer (think, Farside comics).

But hell is not the devil's castle, and he occupies no position of authority there. Hell is the devil's ruin. It is his future, everlasting prison and place of judgement (Rev 20:10).

I think one of the reasons people hold onto this idea of the devil ruling in hell is because, if he is in hell he isn't anywhere near us. So, at least in their mind, it removes him from any place of influence or danger. He isn't here, he's there, so we don't have to give him much thought at all. But the devil is here. He is a very real, and present danger. Peter says that the Devil prowls our cities, suburbs and countryside looking for people to devour (1 Pet 5:8). He does not reign in hell, but he does seek to reign over you and ruin you.

In all of this our gospel hope and confidence is that the devil has been cast down and bound through the ministry Jesus, is destroyed by Christ's work on the cross, and that the church has been set free from the bondage and deceit of the Devil and will eventually trample the deceiver underfoot. The devil has been beat, but is awaiting his final judgment. Hell is his end, not his stronghold.