The devil, who controls the minds of millions of people, has one message: ‘There is no heaven’. The spiritual war (the battle about truth) has to do with eternal destinations. The devil plays an essential role in God’s design of an eternal kingdom. Since God cannot allow people into heaven who don’t submit to Him and love Him, He gives those who wouldn’t like to have Him as king, the opportunity to establish their own kingdom. The devil was the first to defect, and many angels followed him. The devil knows that since disobedience deserves God’s punishment, his eternal torture in hell at the end of this age (when God has filled His kingdom with citizens), is certain. That is why the demons asked Jesus: ‘Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?’ (Matthew 8:29b). The devil keeps this knowledge that there is a place of eternal punishment, hidden from man, and plots to get as many people as possible to reject God’s salvation through Jesus. They will share the same fate as the devil.
What makes hell a certainty?
- The historical information in the Bible points to hell as a certainty. As God’s revelation was given in history, we can easily take up our history books, archaeological commentaries, and information on the land of Israel, and collaborate it with the narratives found in the Bible. If the past history of the Bible which can be checked is reliable, the information about the unseen future destinations of heaven and hell should logically also be reliable.
- The supernatural character of the Bible points to the certainty of hell. The Bible is supernatural because it was written in a unique way. There is no other book on earth that was written over a period of 1500 years. The 40 writers lived at different times in history and came from very different backgrounds. Yet there is one theme that runs like a scarlet thread throughout the books. This points to God as the Architect of the Bible and He does not lie (Titus 1:2). Heaven and its counterpart hell is a clear teaching of the Bible.
- Another proof that hell is a certainty is the war waged against the Bible. It is the only book in history that is facing constant attempts to destroy or change or mutilate its message. (Compare it to the Jews, God’s nation. They constantly have to fight for survival since the enemies of God want to destroy them.) The war which is waged against the Bible has no logic. The salvation message is harmless to society. Christians are not taught to murder, steal, defraud, or rebel against governments (we wage a different war, namely one by prayer, 2 Corinthians 10:3-4). There is a spiritual enemy of God busy controlling the minds of people to influence them to oppose the Bible. He has reason to influence humanity against the Bible: he wants as many as possible to share his fate in hell. He uses many methods (for example specific philosophies like atheism, humanism and evolutionism) to turn people away from the Bible.
The devil and hell
At the close of this age the devil, the traitor, will spend an eternity in the burning lake of sulphur, where he will be tortured day and night (Revelation 20:10). Is this punishment for the devil too strict? Not if we look at his character: he is a murderer and a liar (John 8:44). He is responsible for the wars, rebellions, famines, persecutions and ethnic cleansings through the ages. He causes murders, jealousy, hatred, love triangles, divorces and addictions. He has murdered billions of people in wars, ensnared billions in drugs and alcohol, and caused millions of murders and other tragedies. His record is that of the master of all criminals, and his sentence is fair and justified. All courts on earth will have the same verdict: guilty as charged.
Murderers are sentenced to life imprisonment (capital punishment has been abolished in most countries, although God instituted it as punishment for killing a fellow man made in His image -Genesis 9:6). The devil is a rebel. Countries have never treated traitors leniently; usually they were shot. So hell is the prototype of an appropriate punishment for the devil and his angels who rebelled with him (they cannot be shot or electrocuted, as a spirit is immortal). The punishment will last as long as God’s kingdom remains, which is for ever. (It is normal practice in every day life to separate dangerous criminals from society by locking them in prisons.)
Will there be people in hell?
Yes (Revelation 20:15). Why? Was hell prepared for them? No. It ‘was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matthew 25:41). Does God send people there? No. God doesn’t want anyone to be lost and condemned to hell (Ezekiel 18:23). Why will people then be there? Some people just did not bother to learn anything about God and His Son’s death on behalf of sinners so that they could accept Him and be saved from hell. Others made an informed decision while living, that they did not like God, didn’t want to become involved with Him, didn’t like salvation and refused to submit to God’s lordship. They were people like Richard Dawkins: he hates God, despises Him, mocks Him, and delights to spread his anti-God message. Can God then be blamed if people decide for themselves that they don’t like Him and don’t want to be where He is? God warns through the Bible, evangelists and ministers that every one must make a decision about his eternal destination. Those who refuse to listen can only blame themselves, not God.
Is punishment in hell justified?
Justice on earth is not perfect. Many people who deserve to be brought to trial, escape during this life.
- Examples are Stalin, Mao and many other dictators and heads of state, who killed millions of people. Mugabe is a present day example: is it fair that he killed so many of his own country men without ever being brought to trial?
- What about those people who defraud pensioners and widows, and disappear with their savings, leaving them destitute, and even committing suicide? They sometimes escape justice, but they will face God (unless they are forgiven by Jesus, which will then include restitution - Luke 19:8).
- What about false pastors and theologians, who teach that the Bible is an unreliable book? With that they destroy people’s faith in God, causing many to forsake the Saviour Jesus.
Justice demands that these people are brought to trial, and that will happen at the last, big court case when all the dead appear before God (Revelation 20:11-15).
What will hell be like?
It is described in the Bible as
- A lake of burning sulphur (Revelation 20: 10).
- An unquenchable fire (Matthew 3:12).
- Torturous (Matthew 8:29b - ‘have you come to torture us before our appointed time?’).
- A fiery furnace, weeping and a gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42).
- The worm that never dies (Mark 9:48).
We can imagine: the cries of misery and despair in the confinement of that inferno; the agony of remembering the rejection of God’s grace; the brevity of life’s pleasures in comparison to the length of eternity; the taunting of the devil and demons about their folly of rejecting the Bible; the hatred of the lost souls for those devilish creatures who deceived them; the anguish; the self condemnation for being so foolish and arrogant to reject God’s merciful offer of salvation, and of poking fun at those ‘christians,’ the ‘bible’ and ‘god.’ They would probably love to tear the devil to pieces, but it won’t help to blame him. He acted according to his character, and the like minded followed his lead. The utter hopelessness of hell must be terrible, as there is no way of ever escaping it. Just imagine: the torture, agony and self torment for foolish decisions, will never end - not the next week, next year, in a million years, or a hundred million years.
The idea of hell might sound fanciful, but it is not. People might think it will be one huge party of drink and chicks. They are wrong. When the Bible describes hell it is never depicted as a place of fun and pleasure. Those who chose to disobey God will only have themselves to blame. Fortunately, the way of salvation through Jesus is still open for anyone who wants to change his allegiance and repentant.