Leviticus 25
Mark 1:23-45

“He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might…”     
—2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

Many of us feel uncomfortable talking about hell, but it does not diminish the fact that it is real and Jesus teaches that there will come a day where all that is wicked, all that is bent on rebellion will be judged and destined to hell.

Amongst theologians, there is a great debate as to the interpretation and theology of hell. As a basis, they all agree that Jesus is the only source of salvation and salvation is by grace alone through faith in His finished work on the cross. Hell is God’s divine judgment, consisting of the wrath of God and separation from God, where there will be suffering, torment, agony, grief and lament. Scripture also gives powerful imagery and metaphors of hell as a lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10), a place of darkness where the worm does not die (Mark 9:47-48) and weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:42, 50). All Christian theologians agree on the existence of hell; where the debate begins is on the nature of hell—what is hell like?

The two areas of disagreement boil down to just two main categories: the degree to which one suffers and the duration of that suffering. On the degree to which one suffers, one side agrees that the destiny for all those who reject and rebel against Christ and His kingdom will receive the same fate because they rebelled against an infinitely worthy God, so they deserve an infinitely worthy punishment. This view sees suffering as “one size fits all.” The other side argues that there will be varying degrees of suffering, conditional upon how wicked the person was when they lived. They reason with Old Testament Law, where not every punishment received the same consequences. Justice is retribution, but it is also balancing the scales. Nonetheless, both sides agree that suffering is not pleasant and is unnecessary for people to experience it if they would receive the gift of righteousness from Jesus. 

On the duration of that suffering, there are two dominant views. The first is the traditional view, which is eternal conscious punishment where people will be alive, aware and suffering forever. The second is eternal annihilation, where people will receive a just punishment for how they lived their lives, but eventually suffering will come to an end and they will be annihilated and cease to exist. In these two views, both declare eternal consequences, one is conscious and the other ceases to exist.

While hell is abhorrent, what we see throughout the Scriptures is a loving God extending His hand to a rebellious people time and time again, not wanting any to suffer or perish. Will we receive the gift of salvation from Jesus?

Dear God, thank You for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. I pray for my unbelieving family and friends that they will come to faith in You. Amen.

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