“The God that Jesus teaches us about doesn’t give up until everything that was lost is found. This God simply doesn’t give up. Ever.”
~ Rob Bell, Love Wins
As every day “case makers” for Christ, it is important for us to be able to answer this question; moreover, this is a part of Christian doctrine.
Yes. It is a real place.
Unlike what Bell proposes in his book Love Wins, the truth is, as Christians, hell is a real and important place. Hell turns our faces to God in pure worshipful trembling. Hell is a reminder of what we deserved and what we were saved from, this should drive every follower of Christ to worship even more. This doesn’t mean all we preach is “hell-fire-and-brimstone”, there’s a balance.
What scripture shows us that hell is a real place. Here are some examples, “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10) “And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50).
My Real Experience…
Guy: “So… What do you think about hell?”
Me: “Do you mean do I think it’s a real place?”
Guy: “Well… Sorta, yeah.”
Me: “Yes, I do. It is something that is made very clear all throughout the Bible.”
Guy: “If hell is a real place, do you think, even if I am a really good person and believe in a higher power, I will go to hell?”
Me: “I’ll preface my answer with this: I couldn’t say that I loved you and cared about you as a person if I didn’t tell you what is truth. All love with no truth is being a hypocrite, but all truth with no love is being brutal. With that being said, yes. That’s what God’s word says. I know that can be a hard statement to hear, but I say it because I care.”
Guy: “Dude, that’s gutsy. I can’t believe you would say that! You said what you thought was true even though you knew I might be offended? That’s bold. I like that.”
Do-s and Don’t-s…
Do – ACTUALLY ANSWER THE QUESTION! I know this question can be super intimidating to answer, but you can’t dance around answering the question. People will notice what you’re doing and will call you out potentially; furthermore, you will accomplish nothing by not answering the question. The only thing it helps is your pride.
Do – Speak in Love. While we have to speak the truth to people, doing so with no compassion won’t get anything accomplished. With no compassion, people will be hardened, turned away, and angered. Remind the person that you are telling them what you know to be true because you care about them and love them.
Don’t – Use it Against Them. This isn’t something you should say to hurt someone, you tell them the truth because you’re broken for them. Your heart should break over the eternal destiny of a persons soul, that’s why you speak the truth. There must be a balance of truth and love.
Don’t – Allow Yourself to Think You’re Better. Don’t think that you have some how magically gotten it all figured out. The truth is this: you are just as much of a sinner as them, and you deserve hell just as much as the next person. It is Christ’s sacrifice that covers us. Make sure you are constantly thinking and praying for humility while you speak to them. We’re simply beggars pointing to where the bread is.
Go forth and speak the truth in love.