Is An Eternal Lake of Fire Reasonable?

Hell is too harsh. God is love, and He would never make a place like hell. Or so many people say.

But it’s God’s infinite love and goodness that makes hell reasonable and logical.

If God loves people, He hates murder. He has to punish murderers. If someone raped and killed your loved one, you would be angry. You should be. Rest assured that God would be angry, too. If God cares about justice, He would have to punish murderers. His place of punishment is hell.

God is so good, holy, and righteous that his justice extends beyond punishing murder. He’s going to punish rapists, thieves, and even liars. This is because God has laws, and breaking these laws, or sinning, violates his holy and righteous nature. For example, God says that if you’ve ever told a lie, you’ve broken the ninth commandment, and without Jesus, you will have your part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8), along with murderers. (By the way, most of us can’t even escape God’s murder charge. According to the Bible [1 John 3:15], if you’ve ever hated someone, you’re a murderer at heart.)

While many believe that the Bible is vague about hell, it is actually quite clear. Consider these Bible passages that refer to hell as:

  • Shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2)
  • Everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)
  • Weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:51)
  • Fire unquenchable (Luke 3:17)
  • Indigation and wrath, tribulation and anguish (Romans 2:8-9)
  • Everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:9)
  • Eternal fire…the blackness of darkenss forever (Jude 7-13)
  • He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone..the smoke of their torment ascended up forever and ever: and they have no rest day or night (Revelation 14:10-11)

Hell is scary.  Jesus said you should go to extreme lengths to avoid it, including even cutting off your hand or gouging out your eye if they cause you to sin (Matthew 5:29-30).  It’s better to go to heaven with one hand and one eye than go to hell with two hands and two eyes. 

However, God loves us so much that even though everyone born has sinned and thereby severed their relationship with God, He provided a way for justice to be served while also restoring our relationship to Him and opening the door to heaven. Jesus (who is God in the flesh) lived a sinless life. God punished Him on our behalf by His death on the cross. Amazingly, it pleased the Father to do this (Isaiah 53:10). He was raised from the dead on the third day. 

God is infinitely just—and He is infinitely full of love. You can take your punishment, or you can let Jesus take your punishment. If you repent (turn from sin) and put your faith fully in Jesus, the Judge will set you free.

People who think hell is unreasonable don’t understand that God has a set of laws, and if you break them, you have to be punished.  When they understand these laws, and how blatantly they have broken them, the idea of hell becomes much more reasonable.  The law is a schoolmaster that brings us to Christ (Galatians 3:24).

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2 Responses to Is An Eternal Lake of Fire Reasonable?

  1. auxiliaire says:

    I find that personally it’s a matter of proportions; if one breaks one of the ‘lesser’ commandments, so to speak, such as saying his name in vain, or working on Sunday, and they don’t feel badly or repent for that, it seems almost entirely unnecessary to send them to such a horrible place. Surely a smaller or less forceful message would be enough.

    And my other qualm is the concept of love and punishment. Of course it’s understandable for maybe some kind of temporary forced atonement, but I get the feeling that Hell is too harsh because if God loved us, wouldn’t he want us to change rather than endlessly suffer?

    And just to make sure I’m not mistaken and there’s no misinterpretation of tone, I mean no disrespect with these counterpoints or questions. This stuff really interests me in general and I’m just looking for your point of view.

  2. billphillips says:

    Auxiliaire,

    Thanks for your comment. I enjoy discussing these things, too.

    I’d say we’ve all broken all of the commandments (hatred is murder, John 3:15, lust is adultery, Matthew 5:27-28). Besides that, the Bible says that if you’ve broken one commandment, you’ve broken them all. We’re all lawbreakers, and we all deserve to be punished, just like a lawbreaker on Earth.

    We can think that lying is no big deal, but the seriousness of the lie is often determined by to whom we tell the lie. If I lied to a kid, there’s nothing they could do. If I lie to my boss, he could fire me. If I lie to my wife, she could divorce me. If I lie to the judge while under oath, he can send me to jail. If I lie to the U.S. government, under the right circumstances, they could hang me for treason. If I lie to an infinitely holy God, my punishment is infinite.

    When King David committed adultery and murder, and later came to repentance, he said that he had sinned against God and God alone (Psalm 51:4). Even our smallest sins have to be punished, because God is infinitely holy, righteous and just. We have to give an account for every thought word and deed on Judgment Day. If God were to give me what I deserve, I would have to go to hell. But, since He is also infinitely merciful, He provided a way for my sins to be forgiven–every single one of them, not just the big ones and not just the small ones.

    Maybe those arguments failed miserably to convince you of the justice of hell. But, it doesn’t matter whether we understand it or agree with it. We have God’s promise that those who die without Jesus will go to hell. One thing that might help is if you test yourself on the Ten Commandments. There are some interesting verses that say that the law is like a mirror to see how we look in God’s eyes. There’s a website that goes throught the Ten Commandments at http://www.tenthousanddollaroffer.com.

    Thanks,
    Bill

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