Is hell real?  Well, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Americans are much more likely to believe that there is a heaven than that there is a hell.  According to their research, only 59 percent of Americans believe that hell is real, while approximately 74 percent of Americans believe that there is a heaven.

But doesn’t a belief in heaven usually go along with a belief in hell?  Well, the reality is that American clergy have increasingly avoided the topic of hell in recent years.

Reverand Fred Johns, the pastor of Brookview Wesleyan Church in Irondale, Alabama recently made the following honest admission about why American preachers avoid the topic of hell so much:

“It’s out of fear we’ll not appear relevant,” he admitted. “It’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow.”

The shocking truth is that in the vast majority of churches across the United States, any discussion of hell has almost completely disappeared. Even in most evangelical churches, the reality of hell is rarely mentioned any longer as even evangelical churches now consider the idea of hell to be “too negative” to preach from the pulpit.

A number of months ago, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article entitled “Hell losing its fire in American sermons” that contained some very revealing quotes.

For example, the Chronicle quoted Bruce Shelley, a senior professor of church history at Denver Theological Seminary as saying this: “Churches are under enormous pressure to be consumer-oriented. Churches today feel the need to be appealing rather than demanding.”

The Chronicle also quoted Bill Faris, the pastor of Crown Valley Vineyard Christian Fellowship as saying this: “It isn’t sexy enough anymore.”

Hell isn’t “sexy” enough anymore?

What in the world?

For those who are familiar with the changing Christian landscape in the United States, this actually should not come as much of a surprise. The truth is that churches are increasingly becoming “consumer oriented” with much more of an emphasis on improving the quality of this current life rather than considering what will happen in the next life.

But is hell actually real?

Are there people who have died who are there right now?

Well, there is one man who is traveling throughout the United States that says that he has actually been there.

Bill Wiese claims that he was actually in hell for 23 minutes, and that it was the most unforgettable experience of his entire life.  Now he travels America describing the unspeakable misery that lost souls have to endure there.

Bill Wiese claims that he witnessed the searing flames of hell, felt total isolation, experienced the putrid smell of rotting flesh, heard deafening screams of agony, and saw terrifying demons.

At the end of Bill Wiese’s experience, he claims that the strong hand of God lifted him out of the pit.

He also says that Jesus told him this: “Tell them I am coming very, very soon!”

It took him about a year just to settle down from his experience in hell. After his life changing ordeal, he spent seven years studying the Scriptures to find answers about what he experienced there.

The reality is that everyone is curious about what the afterlife is like, and in the video linked to below, Wiese shares his insights to commonly asked questions such as these:

* Is hell a literal burning place?

* Where is hell?

* Do you have a body in hell?

* Are there degrees of punishment in hell?

* Are there children in hell?

* Can demons torment people in hell?

* Can “good” people go to hell?

So before you completely dismiss the idea of hell, perhaps you should watch this video.

But is it fair that some people are going to be sent to hell?

Have you ever thought about that question much, because the reality is that it is a very important question.

Is it really and truly fair that some people are going to hell instead of heaven?

After all, why not just let everyone into heaven and make everyone happy?

It’s a fair question.

So what is the answer?

Well, one concept that is incredibly clear in the Scriptures is that God seems to really value the idea of meaningful choice.

It appears that it was very important to God to create humanity with free will and to hold us responsible for the choices that we have made.

After all, if we did not have free will we would just be a bunch of robots.

And robots cannot love, so in order to have real love you need people who can make real choices.

God gave us the ability to love and the ability to do good or to do evil.

But if there was never any consequences for evil, what would that say about God?

Let’s illustrate this with a scenario…..

Imagine that your mother was just raped and tortured brutally by some sick, twisted, perverted man who had been doing the same thing to other women for years upon years.

How would you feel if that actually happened?

It is quite likely that you would be exploding with anger. You probably would not even be able to see straight because of your anger. Your very soul would be absolutely crying out for justice.

But then you receive some good news – the rapist has been caught by police and now he is going to go before the judge.

You feel (perhaps naively) that now you are going to get some real justice.

However, at the trial, the judge dismisses all the charges and says to the rapist: “Well, you made a few little mistakes, but you are alright with me dude……let’s go hit the bars. I need a drink. Case dismissed!”

Now how would that make you feel?

What would you think about that judge?

Well, the truth is that evil deserves to be punished, and any judge that refuses to punish evil is a wicked judge.

What if God said this to Adolf Hitler: “Ah I see you killed six million Jews, but I’m cool with that……come and let me show you around your mansion.”

Would God say that?

Of course God would never say that!

Anyone who thinks God is like that is totally delusional.

The truth is that God is a God of perfect love AND a God of perfect justice.

Evil deserves to be punished, and God is most certainly going to punish it.

Imagine if all the serial killers, rapists and all the other most horrible criminals that you can think of got away with their wickedness not only here on earth but also in eternity as well.

Would that be fair?

Would that be just?

Imagine if all child rapists got away with their wicked crimes and never, ever, ever received any punishment for them.

Would that be fair?

Would that be just?

Of course not.

The truth is that everyone is going to face the justice of God some day.

Are you ready for that?

The truth is that most people raise this issue because they don’t want to be accountable to God or to anyone else.

The reason that so many critics of Christianity bring this up is that people do not trust God’s punishment to be just.

But God IS going to be perfectly just.

But most of us do not like to think that we deserve any punishment.

Those who are guilty rarely think they deserve their punishment, while those who are on the outside looking in usually feel that the guilty deserve even more punishment.

To illustrate this, take a trip to a prison some time and ask the inmates if they got what they deserved.  The truth is that the vast majority of them would not would admit that they got what they deserved.

But most of them did get what they deserved, and some day we will stand before God and He will judge us.

So what do we truly know about the coming judgment?

Well, the Scriptures do tell us that there will be varying levels of judgement:

Matthew 11:20-24

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

So is your judgment going to be the same as that for Satan or for the person next to you?

The Scriptures seem to indicate that it will not be.

God is just, and we can trust God that all of his judgments will be perfectly just. We do not need to worry about that.

But the reality is that the Scriptures very clearly tell us that there is punishment for sin. Just consider the following portion of Scripture…..

Revelation 20:10-15

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gaveup the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

That does not sound like a pleasant scene.

So is there any good news?

Yes!

As we mentioned previously, God is a God of perfect love and a God of perfect justice.

God loves you and He sent His Son to die for you on the cross.

Jesus took your punishment on Himself at the cross.

Jesus paid for all the sins of mankind as He suffered and died on the cross.

You see, being a man, Jesus could die for the sins of men.

And being God, Jesus could die for an infinite number of sins.

The truth is that we all stand guilty before God, but out of His great love for us, Jesus willingly died in our place and took the penalty for our sins.

What incredible love!

Justice has been satisfied, so now God can offer you forgiveness of your sins and eternal life as a free gift.

If you will ask Jesus into your life, you can have eternal life in heaven with Him, and that is amazing news!

It is those who receive the gift of forgiveness that Jesus purchased for us that will have eternal life in heaven…..

I John 5:11-13

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

For more information about how you can invite Jesus into your life and have your sins forgiven, we would encourage you to check this information out:

http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0001/0001_01.asp