- Religion and Philosophy
“Hell will freeze over before that happens.” How often have you heard that? Or perhaps you've said it yourself, referring to something that you think will never happen, like your team winning the league, someone apologising after an argument or “a leopard changing its spots”.
Either way you may have to rethink, after Hell did freeze. OK it was a small town in Michigan, USA of that name that experienced temperatures as low as -16 degrees C in January 2014, but it still happened!
Do you believe in Hell?
It's surprising how many people believe in the concept of Heaven, but reject the notion of Hell. Even some Christians find it difficult to believe that the God of love that they worship could banish people to a place of punishment for ever.
A study published in October 2013 by the Barna Research Group of Ventura, California found that 40% of American adults believe that Hell is "a state of eternal separation from God’s presence" and nearly one-third says it is "an actual place of torment and suffering where people’s souls go after death." One in eight believe that "Hell is just a symbol of an unknown bad outcome after death". Others were "not sure" or said they that they do not believe in an afterlife (16%).
Who expects to go to Hell?
Interestingly most Americans do not expect to experience Hell first-hand: just one-half of 1% expect to go to Hell upon their death. Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe they will go to Heaven. One in 20 adults claim they will come back as another life form, while the same proportion contend they will simply cease to exist.
The Bible is very specific that we will all have to face God's judgement. God alone is our judge and the good news is that those who have accepted Jesus as God's Son, who believe that He died as our saviour, can face judgement with confidence. Not because what we have done when alive, but because we have accepted God's free gift of salvation.
As Hell refers to the anguish of those who face eternity without God, so Heaven describes the joy and peace of those who will spend eternity living with God. Yes Hell is too awful to contemplate, but God wants us to choose to believe in Him and live our lives according to His plan because we want to, and not because we feel forced to do so because of where we will spend eternity.
The last word
Admittedly the Bible only gives us a taste of what Heaven and Hell will be like, but I know which one I prefer.
What about you?