"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it" (Matthew 7:13).
After I had spoken in a church, I was standing at the door talking with people when a guest approached me. "I suppose you are one of those people who believe God sends people to hell!" the person somewhat sarcastically directed to me. "No," I said somewhat matter-of-factly, "I don't believe God sends people to hell at all," pausing for this to register and then added, "I think we send ourselves there when we refuse the life God offers us, the One who sent His son to save us from such a place."
But is the issue ever really settled this side of eternity? Why do I believe in hell? Five reasons.
Reason #1: It’s what the Bible says. Whether I understand it, like it or not, I take what the book says at face value. I've settled the issue that God said what He meant and meant what He said. No, God doesn't answer to me or anyone else. To symbolize, trivialize, or ignore what the Bible says about the issue insults the holy men and women who gave their lives recording what God said, and under the guise of intellectualism reveals a crass unbelief.
Reason #2: I believe in hell because I believe God could not be just unless there is such a place. It is inconceivable that an Adolph Hitler, who sent 14 million people to their deaths in the Holocaust, could spend eternity in the same place as my mother, or Mother Teresa, or the martyrs of the centuries who have died (and some still do) for their faith in God. Justice demands that God has His payday someday, and I'm willing to wait until that day, but I'll rejoice when it comes.
Reason #3: I believe in hell because of human experience. You've heard of the beyond-death experiences of many who saw the white light at the end of the tunnel or saw Jesus waiting to receive them and came back to describe it. But what about those who had near death experiences and saw hell, not heaven, before them? If hell is real, should we not hear some of those encounters as well?
In His book,To Hell and Back,medical doctor Maurice Rawlings documents many such experiences, and then he answers the question, "Why don't we hear more about the trip-to-hell experiences?" He says, "Hell cases remain unreported because of personal ego and the embarrassment of it all. Patients don't want to discuss a matter that confirms ultimate failure in life, and overwhelming defeat, a slap in the face." He adds, "The average doctor, for instance, will relate only his most impressive diagnoses and say nothing of past mistakes. Should we expect less from the patients?"
Reason #4: I believe in hell because this gives purpose to Jesus' death. If there is no hell, God didn't need to send His Son, who was cruelly treated, rejected, and ultimately crucified to point the way back to heaven. He could have sent a spokesman, even an angel, but not demand the death of His one and only Son. Think about it.
Reason #5: I believe in hell because this demonstrates the validity and proof of Christ's great love for us as His children. You know John 3:16, right? But do you know the words that follow? "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17). He told us why He came to our old Earth: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10).
Restoration, showing us the way back home, is the very heart of the Gospel which causes us to turn our backs on wronging and set our faces toward heaven's portals. Knowing about hell makes the certainty of heaven all the more meaningful and precious. Think about it.
Resource reading: Luke 10:25-37