Summary: People often ask how a loving God could torture people in hell forever? What does the Bible say?
Will God Torture People Forever?
Randy A. Croft
Does is really matter what a person believes about hell?
Years ago, preachers used to fill people with terror describing the pain and suffering of hellfire. One preacher said that the fires of hell are so hot that if a sinner were suddenly taken out and plunged to the hottest place on earth he would freeze to death. One preacher described it like this..."See! It is a pitiful sight. The little child in this red-hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out. See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of the oven. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell--despair, desperate and horrible!"
Now it is true that most churches today do not try to describe hell in such terms, but I was at a Christian bookstore recently and this past year several new books on hell came out, all along the traditional lines of eternal torment and suffering. We don’t like to use the language of children suffering and enduring pain and torment, but isn’t that the truth behind the doctrine of eternal hell fire.
A boy grew up New York as the son of a minister. He had strict upbringing, and often failed his parents. Father reprimand, "Robert if you keep committing these sins, Almighty God is going to put you in hell and burn you forever and ever." After years of this, he had enough. Finally replied to dad, "Dad if that’s the kind of God you serve, I don’t want anything to do with Him!" "If that’s what God does, then I hate him." In anger he got up and left home. He soon became known as Mr. Robert Ingersoll, the world famous atheist who would travel from city to city and talk against God and the Bible. All because of the teaching on hell stirred up within him a picture of God that could not be reconciled with the God of love.
Now, obviously, we want to believe what the Bible is clear about, regardless of how it makes us feel, but I am surprised how many sincere Christians have overlooked all the relevant and applicable scriptures dealing with the judgement. When dealing with a biblical subject, especially a controversial one, we need to take all of the biblical passages that address the issue before coming to conclusions. Some questions may be formed, and others answers, but it’s necessary to include as many passages to help us understand the topic at hand.
It’s important that we address this topic because it tells us the truth about the love of God and how God deals with those who choose not to believe and follow Him. It tells us of his character and mercy.
Let’s look at a few assumptions that are very clear.
#1. World will end.
The Bible is clear, over and over and over--that one day there will come an end to this world. One of the greatest truths in the Bible, in God’s good timing, all evil, sickness, violence, crime, suffering, and hurt will come to an end. Someday there will be "no more curse" (Rev 22:3), and the ugly and painful things in this world "won’t be remembered or even come to mind." (Isa 65:17).
#2. God never forces us to go to heaven or hell. He gives us a choice.
First of all, the bible says that some people will not live forever. Some will be saved (go to heaven), some won’t. But it’s our choice to follow God or not. God will not force us to be in heaven. Heaven would be hell for many people who have no interest in God today...they wouldn’t be happy there.
Deut 30:19 "Today I am offering you life or death, blessing or curses. Now, choose life! Then you and your children may live."
Matthew 7:13-14. "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
John 3:16 "eternal life...perish"
In Luke 13:3 Jesus says. "But unless you repent, you too will perish." To really grasp this, let’s look up the definition of the word perish:
perish. v. to suffer destruction, to become extinct
Those who deny Christ will perish, be cut off, or cease to exist. The greek word behind "perish" is unequivocally clear that life is snuffed out. Eternal life is a gift give by God.
Romans 6;23 "The wages of sin is death...gift of God eternal life."