Why We Believe 2.5

  •  Scott Curtis
  •  Jun 9, 2024
Why We Believe 2.5

Why we Believe In Hell


We are continuing our study of The Why We Believe Series.  The feel-good topic we're going to be talking about today is Hell.  Why do we believe?  Meaning why do Christians believe in the things we do?  We've talked about several different beliefs we have and why we believe.  We talked about What Belief is or what our faith really means.  Why do we believe the things we do?  What is the process of putting your faith in anything including God, Jesus, his resurrection, the Bible, your car, an airplane, or a friend? So why do we believe then? 

It’s because of the evidence. That’s how people determine what and who to believe in everyday life and it's also how we should determine if we believe or not in God, Jesus, The resurrection, the Bible, and the "uplifting" subject of today which is Hell.    So why believe in Hell? Is there any evidence or reason that hell is a real place we should try to avoid?  Hell has almost become a taboo subject in some Christian churches today.  Some churches don’t even talk about hell, or judgment, or even God’s Justice.  Why?  Why do you think some churches have stopped talking about Hell or judgement or Justice?  Should we talk about it? Is it appropriate?  Why know about it?  Should we believe in it?   Why?  What if we offend someone by talking about it?   

When you think about Hell, what words come to mind? First, how does our culture depict Hell? Take a second to write down your thoughts. Now would you say those are accurate or does scripture describe it differently?

What should we know about hell?  Why should we believe in it? If we do, why do we believe it?  Jesus talks about it a lot.  You may know that Jesus speaks more about Hell than heaven.  Why do you think he did? 

How does the Bible describe Hell?  A couple of descriptions from scripture are  “Darkness where there will be gnashing of teeth.”  “A fiery furnace, a lake of burning sulfur, continuous torment, unquenchable and eternal.”  That last word is the worst I think.  Eternal, forever.  It's hard to comprehend eternity. With hell there is no hope.  A famous author Dante wrote about hell and said, “Abandon Hope all who enter here.” 

When you talk to a prison inmate there is one thing that gives all prisoners hope.  What do you think that is?  Besides GodTheir "out" date.  They all know the date they are getting out.  You can walk up and ask any inmate in any prison in the world and ask them their outdate and they can tell you.  Why?  That’s their hope.   That’s what they can look forward to.  That’s what they live for.  That’s what keeps them going.   No more sleeping in a dorm with 150 guys with no A/C.  Constant noise, fights, gangs, drugs.  Some have described it as a hell on earth.  But unlike the real Hell, there is usually an "out" date in prison on earth.

A date when they will be released and gain their freedom back. 

So is Hell real?  Ok, Hell is described in the Bible as a real place. We have already talked about how the Bible is a reliable document.  Does it prove 100% that it’s the word of God, therefore prove that hell is real?  No, but we also decided that nothing in life has 100% certainty which is another reason why we base our decisions and put our faith in things based on evidence.  Let's look at some at some scriptures of Jesus speaking about Hell.

 Read John 5:28-29  "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned."    So condemnation to hell.

Matthew 25: 31-46   “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”  Eternal punishment in Hell.

Let's take a close look at this parable Jesus tells.  I think it provides some insight into Hell.

In Luke 16:19-31  Jesus tells a parable of Lazuras and the Rich Man.  “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


It says he was in Hades.  What is Hades?  Apparently it can have different meanings.  1. The Grave a place of bodily decay 2. The place of punishment for the wicked. 3. The Realm of the dead.  It is always associated with death, never light.    

It says he was in torment.  What does that mean?  Does it mean torture?  The context of it seems to suggest torment is regret without repentance.  Seems to be more of an internal suffering than external.  Torture usually refers to unjust physical punishment.  Nowhere in the bible does it say people will be tortured in Hell forever.  I’m not saying some people may deserve it, and maybe it will happen to some.  But the Bible does not refer to physical torture. 

So what observations can we make about this parable that may well apply to the afterlife?  What can we take from this?  What is it a picture of?  Well, first How would you describe Lazuras?  A Poor Godly man. What else?  And the Rich man?   A Rich ungodly man.  What did people believe then and still some believe today about the poor or the sick? He Must not have had enough faith. What else do we know about the two men?  Why does Jesus seem to indicate that the rich are usually the unbelievers in his parables?   Is it wrong to be rich, dress well and eat well?  What about the gate?  I think it's interesting that there was a gate that separated the rich man from the Lazarus on earth and there is also a separation after they died.  What was that?  The chasm. So what does that mean?  Permanent separation, no crossing over.   What do you think about that?  Does the Rich man seem repentant?  How does he treat Lazarus before their deaths?  What about after their deaths?  Still ordering him around like a servant.

What is the rich man's focus?  Escaping the torment, helping his family.  Do we hear regret or repentance from the rich man?  No, he just seeks relief and escape for his family.  So the rich man still doesn’t get it.  He still is doing wrong.  People in hell will continue to sin.  They still won't want God.  So what is Hell?  A place of?  Torment, what about its purpose?  A place for the Devil and his demons. It is also a place of Judgement, punishment, and separation from God. Does Hell speak to God’s Justice?  Should lawbreakers be punished here on earth?  Yes.  Should they be punished by God?  Yes.  So we are all lawbreakers and we all deserve Hell?  Yes  So why isn’t Lazurus in Hades?  He believed.  His faith saved him.  He had faith in God just like Abraham and just like our faith in Jesus saves us from Hell. 

Besides the Bible is there any other evidence or reason to believe Hell is real?

What about Justice?  Does Hell play a part in God being a God of Justice?

So why do you think God created Hell? Let's make a list. Take a few moments to write down your ideas. There are a lot of legitimate questions people ask, good questions like why would a loving God sentence people to eternal damnation in Hell?  And I want to talk about and think through some of these questions biblically, and from a common sense and philosophical viewpoint.  These are legitimate questions we should think about and know why we believe despite these questions and objections.  Hell is an objection people cite as to why they don’t believe.  So it's important for our own faith to know why We believe in it and to be able to explain to others why we believe.  Our culture of unbelief can and does affect us.  So we need to think about these things and know why we believe and why the scriptures and the evidence supports the reality of Hell.   We can have questions about our faith, about hell and still believe.  So that’s what I want to talk about now.  First question.   Does God send people to Hell? No  So do we have a choice? (Yes) We have free will to choose, don’t we? Yes!  Does God force us to love, worship and believe in Him?  No.  Why not?  He loves us. Does God force us to go to heaven and live, love and worship Him forever?  No.  Why not?  Love? 

If God only created Heaven and no hell would there be a choice to spend eternity? No.   And if there were no Hell could there be a Heaven as the bible describes? No. What do you think about that?  Why would there be no heaven without Hell?  What if everyone would be together in Heaven?  Would that be good?  Would that be Just or fair? Is that love?  If not, what would it be?  Would it be fair or just to believers or unbelievers if everyone was together?  What do you think? 

Imagine if you were someone who rejected God at every chance you got throughout your entire life, wanted nothing to do with God and then when you die you are sent to heaven by God and you are expected to love and worship God for eternity and have a close relationship with him.  What kind of place would that be for an unbeliever?  A kind of hell?  You might say how can that be?  It would be so much better than hell.  For a Christian of course.  But what would it be for someone who wants nothing to do with God?  Would it be heaven for him? I don’t think so.

So do you think Hell is a necessary place?  Why or Why Not? So in order for there to be a choice to accept or reject God, there has to be Hell otherwise there would be no choice.  It's kind of deep and It makes my head hurt sometimes.  So why does there have to be a Hell and a Heaven?  Because God loves us and will not force us to love him.  Could God have created us to all love and worship him if he wished?  Sure.  Why didn’t he just do that then?   Would that have any value or mean anything to him?  No, why not?  Love has to be free or its not love.  Or what?  It would be meaningless.  It would not be true, it would be a lie.  Whether its deception or coercion, the result would be the same.  It would not be love because it isn’t true, it would be based on lies. 

So do we believe God is a loving God?  Yes. Do we believe He is a merciful God?  Yes.  Do we believe he is a Just God?  Yes. Not only is he loving, merciful and just, but he is perfectly loving, perfectly merciful and perfectly just. 

Now since God is God, he is able to apply all three of these attributes of his character perfectly to each one of us.  Who benefits from that?  We do.  Could a human do that?  No way.  I was thinking of someone on earth who has some of those attributes but obviously wouldn’t be perfect in all areas like God.  Can you think of people in your life that have some of these?  Think about the great leaders of your life.  People who really cared for you.  Took time for you.  The most effective leaders of your life served you, didn’t they?  They didn’t expect you to serve them even though they were leaders, why?  The world’s definition of a leader is someone who is served by others but God’s definition of a leader is someone who serves his subordinates.  The greatest leaders are servant leaders.  What are the characteristics of a servant Leader?  Love, mercy, and Justice.  Do they love you, do they show mercy, and are they fair to you, do they hold you accountable?  I’m sure people come to mind who have some of those characteristics.  Whether they are parents, relatives, coaches, teachers. Those are the people that have the greatest impact on your life.  And Jesus is our greatest example of that.  Because he said, “he didn’t come to be served, but to serve.”

The great leaders of our lives are the ones who have some of these character traits and have taken time out of their lives to serve us. To care about us.  That’s who God is.  These attributes(Love, mercy, and Justice) are a big part of God’s Character.  Only he is able to perform all 3 perfectly.   

So Churches are usually good at promoting God's love, mercy, and grace as they should.   It’s a big part of who He is.  But they don’t always like to promote His Justice and Judgment.  But is mercy without Justice still mercy? If that’s true why is it true?  Mercy from what if there is no Justice or judgment?  If there is no Hell, Hitler kills 6 million Jews and then shoots himself.  Is that Justice?  Does anyone really get justice while living here on earth?  I would argue no.  I’m sure no one can give an example of Justice not being done in their lives. Obviously there are lots of examples. Write down a few on your own. Every day of our lives we experience it, it seems.  We live in a fallen sinful world.  Real true Justice is scarce here.  From little things to big things. 

If you dare watch or listen to the news there is injustice everywhere.  People seem to get ahead by doing things that God considers wrong. 

Where is the justice in that?  If God is the perfect judge, then Justice will be done. Likely not in this life.  I think that’s one way Satan tempts us.  "Hey look at Bob over here.  He's not playing by the rules and look at him.  He’s rewarded and even promoted for his actions."   What if God was not a perfect judge and didn’t punish evil in the end?  Would he be a loving God? No  Why not?  Would he be just? No  Would victims of crimes ever receive any kind of justice in the end if there was no eternal judgement?  But thankfully He is just.  And Justice will be done in the end. How should that affect us?  It Gives us Hope for justice.    

Do you think the punishment in Hell will be the same for everyone?  Why or Why not?  Now any sin against God is enough to send us to hell.  But the Old Testament law can be described in two ways:  1. Any sin separates us from God, 2. God prescribes different punishments for different crimes based on the severity of the crime.  So I believe there might be different punishments in Hell.

If He is a perfect judge then he will judge perfectly.  He couldn’t do that if He judged everyone the same.  That would not be perfect Justice.  Do you agree?

Some people may say what about the remote tribes in the world, will they be sent to hell if they didn’t know or believe in Jesus?  Or someone who was told from an early age to avoid God or Jesus?  What do you think about that?  Given God’s character as The perfect judge.  I think it's clear from scripture that God will only judge us by what evidence of him we have been exposed to.  Think about how righteousness was awarded to Abraham due to his faith.  That is why I think it's our obligation to seek out all of the evidence for God and to know it. For two reasons.  To strengthen our own faith and to be able to expose others to the evidence of God so they can make the most informed decision when considering faith in God. 

We have discovered in this class from the beginning that people need evidence and reason to believe in anything.  So I think its something God expects from us to be able to articulate to others.  We are witnesses to God’s reality.  That includes seeking out the evidence that supports God’s reality.  That’s what a Christian Worldview means.  The lens that we view the world through.  I believe our Christian worldview best describes the reality of this world.  That’s a great reason to believe.

If there was no Hell would we need a saviour?  What are we being saved from when we believe in Jesus, acknowledge who He is, realize we are a sinner, and receive him as our savior.  Hell is what we are being saved from, which is probably the reason Jesus talked about it so much.  Now Jesus really did endure torture(unjust physical suffering).  Why would Jesus go through that for us if there was no eternal punishment to save us from? 

So Why do We Believe in Hell?  How would you answer this question? I think a good response would be because of the evidence.

What is God really doing when we receive our final judgment?  Giving us what we want.  If we choose Him, we receive eternity with Him. If we reject Him, we receive eternity without him. 


Hell is a necessary choice God gives us out of love.   

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