Hell is the Default Destination
- Meg Bucher Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 6 Dec
It’s hard to imagine our God allowing any of His children to reside permanently in hell; yet, the Bible clearly states that’s exactly where we’re going, unless we are saved from the fate of death that sin entails through salvation in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
God set us down in Eden, with everything we needed and no shame (Genesis 2:15; 25). The devil is as crafty today as he ever was (Genesis 3:1), and will do whatever he can to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10.) It’s a reality to be feared, but not an ending that we have to choose. Jesus won’t return until every ear has had a chance to hear (Matthew 24:14).
Here are 4 biblical points that help us understand hell better:
1. God had our salvation in mind from the moment of creation.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1).
The infamous fall of humanity began with a “Did God really say ….”
Children are born with a default to point a finger in blame, and we carry that trait into adulthood. When God asked Eve what she had done, her response was not that far off from the “They made me do it!” reaction that fills parental ears on a daily basis.
“It was the serpent! He tricked me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13).
Any good parent would tell their child that no one can “make” them do anything that they don’t comply with. The final choice of action is ours, though our hearts can be wildly influenced and entertained by the propositional “what if” in our flesh that begs the heart to rebel.
How often does a seed of doubt, the perpetual “what if”, shoot up out of the ground and grow taller than we expected? Sometimes it is wildly out of control. WE can’t always see the consequences, but God knows what they will be. The same was true of Eve. “But he told me to!” wasn’t going to erase her mistake.
The One who created us calls us out of our default destination through salvation in Jesus Christ.
2. Humanity's downfall started with Satan's tricky lie.
“The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).
“The serpent’s promise was at least partly true” (NIV Quest Bible Notes on Genesis 3:22).
The devil is crafty. The very definition of the word is “skillful in underhand or evil schemes; cunning; deceitful; sly.” He’s not just throwing around obvious missteps and lies. He’s a master of deceit, playing against the parts of our hearts that want to do good. His lies have the potential to appear true without the Word of God to alert us of his misleading.
“Sin, which always results in death, cuts the sinner off from God’s gift of eternal life” (NIV Study Bible Notes).
3. Hell is a real place.
The best place to find evidence of hell’s environment is the Bible:
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).
All those who reside in hell will be separated from everyone else forever. That’s why the funeral of an unbeliever is especially sad; it really could be the last goodbye.
“They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).
Upon realizing that the Lord has been willing to answer our cry for help all along, they will be cast out of His presence.
“…the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50).
Furnace, according to the Dictionary of Bible Themes, is “A closed fireplace made of brick or stone for domestic or industrial usage. Used figuratively, it represents God’s presence, testing and judgment.” In particular, Matthew 13:50 uses the word in reference to God’s wrath, but the image of a closed-in place that we cannot escape paints a vivid reality of a non-believer’s final destination.
“Whether or not hell is a literal place of fire, Jesus clearly expressed several things: (1) Hell is a real place. (2) It is a place of unbearable torment. (3) Its residents have no way out. (4) It is the eternal destination of those who are not in Christ Jesus. (5) God does not reside there” (NIV Quest Bible Study Notes).
4. Hell may be the default destination, but God is calling us home.
“The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift— eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King” (Romans 6:23).
Hell is the default destination, because of sin. But God loves us in a way that we cannot understand. Through Christ, He paved a way back home to Him.
“For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
We deserve to pay for our sin, but are not required to pay anything for forgiveness and restoration—for salvation. Jesus has already done that. God is waiting on us to accept it.
When we understand who He is, which is accomplished through prayer and study of His word inspired by the Holy Spirit in us as believers, we will get to know Him, and see glimpses of the hope that awaits us in eternal life.
Have you ever tried to give someone a gift, and they refused to accept it? God’s not asking us for anything. He doesn’t need anything from us. God truly desires fellowship with everyone, but He won’t force us. Unfortunately, if we refuse, the default destination is hell.
Father, Praise You for paving a way for us to be with You in heaven! Beyond all that we strive to unravel, explain, and understand, we choose heaven! Forgive us for doubting the seriousness of sin and it’s consequences, and restore us to You piece by piece until the day we are welcomed home. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Mike_Sheridan
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ on her blog, http:// sunnyand80.org. “Mom” is the most important calling on her life, next to encouraging others to seek Him first … authentically. A writer, dance mom, substitute teacher, youth worship leader/teacher and Bible Study leader, she can often be found having some kind of an adventure in the small little lake town where she resides with her husband of ten years, two daughters, and their Golden-doodle.
This article is part of our larger resource library of terms important to the Christian faith. From heaven and hell to baptism and communion, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about theological words and their meaning.
Heaven - What is it Like, Where is it?
Hell - 10 Things You Should Know
Baptism - What Does it Mean and Why is it Important?
Communion - 10 Important Things to Remember
The Trinity - Father, Son, Holy Spirit Explained
Predestination - Biblical Support and Facts
Armor of God - What is it and How to Use it