The Comforts of Hell

             A title like “The Comforts of Hell” probably strikes most people as an oxymoron. What kind of comforts can there possibly be in hell? 

            Well, not “in” hell, but “about” hell. 

            The Bible reveals that hell is a place where its residents “weep and gnash their teeth” forever, where the “worm never dies, and the fire never dies”(see Jesus’ words about it in Mark 9:42-50). Everyone there has received specific punishments on the basis of his or her sins while living on earth. Revelation 20, the chapter about the Last Judgment, concludes, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”(20:15). 

            Many people, especially those who grew up in church environments, have heard of these things. Many more reject the idea of hell or say it’s not worthy of a loving God to create and populate such a place. But just as the Bible speaks much about God’s love, grace, kindness, and compassion, it also says that “it’s a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” and that “vengeance is mine, I will repay.” The God of scripture is unlike any person ever conceived. He is both just and gracious, loving and wrathful, forgiving and holy, hating any and every sin. No human could ever have painted the composite we have of him in the Bible, for no person would ever have been able to dream up the contrasting character traits that make up his being. 

            That is why the reality of hell can be vastly comforting. 

            For one thing, the truth of hell means all people truly are accountable to God for how they lived and conducted themselves on earth. The Apostle Paul says, “God will give to every man according to his deeds”(see Romans 2:6), and “each one of us will give an account of himself to God”(Romans 14:12). This means that kid who bullied you all through grade school will have to own up to it before God. It also means people like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and everyone who ever cheated, hurt, despised, hated, murdered, committed genocide or even cussed you out personally will answer for those crimes. 

            For another, it means real justice will occur for everyone who was ever treated unjustly. No evil person will escape. They will all pay for the terrible things they did to anyone and everyone. God will mete out punishments in accordance with the crimes, and right every wrong.

            For a third, it means all our deeds, words and thoughts count for eternity. Nothing is wasted, forgotten, or overlooked. Of course, an evil person would not consider that very comforting. But for those who love God, it means we truly are significant. Everything we do has meaning and purpose because of the reality of hell.  

            The fourth comfort about hell, and this is the greatest one, is that while it is terrible pain and agony for all eternity for those in it, no one ever has to go there. In John 3:17, the verse after the famed John 3:16, Jesus says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” The great truth of Christianity is that Jesus Christ paid for all sins of all humankind on the cross. If we simply trust him with our lives, and put our faith in him, hell’s horrors become meaningless. We will never experience them for Christ experienced them for us. 

            It’s a great promise and truth. For those, though, who reject it, hell is a giant warning: you will answer and be punished for everything you ever did. So if you don’t want to end up here, get your life right with God. Now. 

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