What does hell say about God?

A few years ago, a young lady named Mary Ellen visited a church and told a traveling evangelist that although she was raised in a Christian home, she had given up on God and was, instead, practicing witchcraft.

“I was raised in a hellfire-and-brimstone spitting church,” she told me. “They would talk about this God who would take sinners and burn them for all eternity, and that God would be happy to inflict torture upon them for as long as time would last. I thought to myself, ‘If that’s what God is really like, I’d be better off without Him.’ ”

Because of the portrait of God painted by the church, this intelligent young woman had turned her back on the Bible and embraced paganism and devil worship!

Mary Ellen was appalled by the idea of a “God of love” behaving as one would expect the devil to behave. Not even history’s most reviled atheistic tyrants—Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot—were as cruel to their victims as Christians accuse God of being. Mary Ellen reacted to the idea as tens of thousands of others have done—by giving up on God.

To misunderstand hell is to misunderstand the character of God, the awfulness of sin, and the love of God for all of His children.

It is clear that some passages in the Bible state that hellfire will burn “forever” (Revelation 14:11; 20:10). But logic alone tells us that if hell burns forever “on the breadth of the earth,” it would be impossible for God to create a new earth!

And if God kept sinners alive to endure eternal burning, He would fail in His mission to rid the world of sin. Instead, He would perpetuate it.

Can you imagine a new earth where, throughout eternity, you could hear the howls and screams of the wicked suffering in hell? Or what if you knew that in some corner of the universe, those whom you had loved on the earth were writhing forever in agony because of misdeeds during their relatively short lives on earth? Who could enjoy heaven knowing that loved ones or family were being tortured throughout all eternity.

Thankfully, the Bible states that the new earth will be a place without sorrow or pain (Revelation 21:4).


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