Submitted by Andy McIlvain.
Hell, where is it, what is it? Do you think of it?
Gordon Ramsey is a world renowned chef and entrepreneur and TV personality. His lists of so-called reality TV programs are many and continue to grow, as do his programs that use the word Hell: “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Hotel Hell,” and now “Hell on Wheels.”
But what is Hell? Should we as Christian’s care?
Hell is regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the wicked are punished after death.
Jesus taught that Hell was real, and he spoke of it three times more than he did of Heaven. Jesus said it is a place not where “the” worm never dies, but a place where “their” worm does not die (Mark 9:48). “Their worm” means their own personal gnawing of their conscience for their lifetime of rejecting Christ. It never dies. It is just like the Gehenna fire, which was a trash dump outside the walls of Jerusalem.
Milton said it another way in Paradise Lost, “Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.” People take hell with them. C. S. Lewis said in The Problem of Pain, “The damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; the doors of hell are locked on the inside… They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved.”
Heaven and Hell also are places defined by God’s presence or absence. Sin separates us from the presence of God (Isaiah 59:2), which is the source of all joy (Psalm 16:11), love, wisdom, or good things of any kind (James 1:17).
So, to understand hell we must understand that our sin is slavery. Romans 1:21-25 tells us that we were built to live for God above all else, yet we choose instead to pursue work, achievement, love, or morality as means of self-worth instead. All of us, religious or not, are worshiping something. We become functional pagans. Sin is worshiping anything but Jesus – and sin always leads to slavery.
The essence of salvation is knowing a person-knowing Christ (John 17:3). The gospel calls us to an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is what true salvation is all about. Jesus welcomes us and forgives us regardless of our past.