People are so passionate about what they believe, no matter the source, that they had rather ‘fight than switch’ as the saying goes. “I have been good all my life, not doing this, that or the other thing and by God I deserve Heaven. Now, others who have been drinking, having sex, committing adultery, fornicating, doing drugs, stealing, lying, cheating and any number of other evils, don’t tell me that they are not going to hell. They have earned it and I have earned heaven.”
People are PASSIONATE about their belief in hell. Somehow for them it is the eternal equalizer. “Those people deserve hell and I don’t.” Some get almost belligerent defending their concept of hell. They deserve heaven and others who are reprobate deserve hell. Could this all be boiled down to a degree of self-righteousness on the part of “good” Christians? Whether hell exists or not has no bearing on the reality of Satan and his present work on this earth. Satan absolutely exists as the great deceiver walking the earth as a roaring lion of destruction. The question is does an ever burning, torturing, damning hell fire exist and has it always existed? The Truth is truly freeing!
We categorize sin. Some not so bad. Some really bad. God does not. Sin is Sin. And ALL of it was forgiven at the Cross of Christ—past, present and future. When we start to categorize sin as bad and not so bad, we are right back into Greek Mythology and works, and we have left the Grace train at the station.
People love their hell. I probably will not do much about that in this little book. But the truth remains. They love their hell. For whatever reasons.
But the Truth is freeing. Not only for the individual, but for all of humanity. God is love and He loves all of us the same as He loved Jesus. (See John 17:23) The Good News really is GOOD NEWS for EVRYONE!!!
From the ancient Chinese “Diyu”, or hell, ruled by Yanluo Wang with its 18 levels of torture for the wicked to virtually most every civilization and religion since we see the idea of torment for the payment of evil deeds consistent in religious teachings.
The Egyptians had as the god of their underworld Shezmu who would inflict horrible torture to those unfortunate to be assigned to this under-world fate. As in most of the world’s philosophies concerning “hell”, there were many levels of torment in the Egyptians “circle of Upper Hell” as “Books of the Netherworld” about ancient Egypt show. (Check out ‘Infernal Names’ in history on the Web.)
The ancient Greeks’ teaching on the underworld or the netherworld was refined by Plato (429-347 B.C.E). Plato divided the underworld into nine levels of torment and gave the name “Hell” to this underworld in his famous writing Gorgias. He further named Hades, the brother of Zeus and Poseidon, as its god. For one to enter this ‘hell’ upon death, the person would have to pass through the river Acheron to begin the descent into torment in one of hell’s nine levels. Plato is also credited with the creation of the concept of ‘purgatory’. Some 1700 years later Dante, in his Divine Comedy (1308), would plagiarize Plato naming the entrance to his nine levels of ‘hell’ the river Acheron. Dante’s lowest level of his hell would be the place where Satan is locked in a block of ice!
Without going into every one of history’s civilizations religious practices suffice it to say that all, with very few exceptions, had the concept of one being rewarded for their good deeds outweighing their evil deeds and tormented in the underworld if their evil deeds outweighed their good. This idea of reward and punishment is just natural to the mind of fallen man.
What seems to be consistent with all of these religions is the horrible description of the types of ‘demonic’ torment inflicted upon those lost such as eyes being torn out, tongues being ripped out, some being boiled in oil, dismembered, dancing on fiery coals and flames, having continual thirst with no water available and the list could go on and on. This is hardly the type of thing a loving Heavenly Father would either invent or allow to occur to one of His children.
Lastly, we see that this concept of ‘hell’ existed thousands of years before the writing of the Holy Scriptures, before Ancient Israel or Jesus Christ. Therefore we see that the hell concept obviously came out of the fallen mind and fallen nature of mankind in PAGANISM.
Does it make any sense at all that our loving God would use pagan concepts influenced by Satan the Adversary to be an integral part of the Good News of Salvation in Jesus Christ? Or is the Good News really about Adoption and Inclusion into the life of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit of ALL of God’s children all made a reality in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ? (See Ephesians 1:3-5; Hebrews 10:10)
God simply loves YOU. And He has since before creation. You are special to God. This is true whether or not you believe it. It is so. And it is GOOD NEWS!!!