And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off.—Luke 16:23
The final state of those who die without availing themselves of God’s freely offered forgiveness is eternal banishment from God’s presence. The Bible calls this hell. “There is no heaven with a little hell in it,” said George MacDonald, meaning that the God who is passionately for righteousness and implacably against sin must ensure that the two are finally separated.
However, hell is always something that people choose for themselves. It is a state for which men and women opt. Before hell is experienced as eternal, it is always experienced as something temporary in the sense that, as men and women retreat from the light God shines into their hearts to lead them to Himself, they experience in a small way what they will experience in full when they are banished into “outer darkness” (Mt 25:30). Dorothy Sayers described hell as “the enjoyment of one’s own way forever.” God says to those who die unrepentant: “You preferred your own way to mine; you shall have it—forever.” In the last analysis, all that God does in consigning people to hell is to allow them to face the full consequences of the choice they have made. God is resolute in punishing sin, and hell is the final consequence of this.
I know most of my readers are Christians, but I know also some are not. Those of you reading these lines who have never surrendered your lives to Christ, I urge you to surrender your hearts to Him today. Christ has died to save you from hell. Pray this prayer with me now.
Father God, I come to You now through Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I repent of my sin, ask Your forgiveness, and receive You into my life as Savior and Lord. Thank You, dear Lord. Amen.
Mt 5:27-30; 18:7-9; 25:34-43
How did Jesus illustrate the importance of avoiding hell?
How can we be sure of avoiding hell?