The horrors of hell are such that they cause us to instinctively recoil in disbelief and doubt. Yet, there are compelling reasons that should cause us to erase such doubt from our minds.
First, Christ, the Creator of the cosmos, clearly communicated hell’s irrevocable reality. He spent more time talking about hell than he did about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount alone (Matthew 5–7), he explicitly warned his followers about the dangers of hell a half dozen or more times. In the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24–25), Christ repeatedly warned his followers of the judgment that is to come. And, in his famous story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16), Christ graphically portrayed the finality of eternal torment in hell.
Furthermore, the concept of choice demands that we believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice. And without choice, heaven would not be heaven; heaven would be hell. The righteous would inherit a counterfeit heaven, and the unrighteous would be incarcerated in heaven against their wills, which would be a torture worse than hell. Imagine spending a lifetime voluntarily distanced from God only to find yourself involuntarily dragged into his loving presence for all eternity; the alternative to hell is worse than hell itself in that humans made in the image of God would be stripped of freedom and forced to worship God against their will.
Finally, common sense dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust will never be righted. Justice would be impugned if, after slaughtering six million Jews, Hitler merely died in the arms of his mistress with no eternal consequences. The ancients knew better than to think such a thing. David knew that for a time it might seem as though the wicked prosper in spite of their deeds, but in the end justice will be served.
Common sense also dictates that without a hell there is no need for a Savior. Little needs to be said about the absurdity of suggesting that the Creator should suffer more than the cumulative sufferings of all of mankind, if there were no hell to save us from. Without hell, there is no need for salvation. Without salvation, there is no need for a sacrifice. And without sacrifice, there is no need for a Savior. As much as we may wish to think that all will be saved, common sense precludes the possibility.
Adapted from Resurrection
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, Resurrection (Nashville:Word Publishing, 2000), chapter seven.
“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth
will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame
and everlasting contempt.”