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Who will go to hell?

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Perhaps one of the clearest statements in the Bible to answer this question is found in John 3:18: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." Apart from Jesus Christ, every human stands condemned and would go to hell.

When Nicodemus approached Jesus about being from God, "Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God'" (John 3:3). Throughout His ministry Jesus indicated that hell is a punishment that lasts forever. Though it was prepared as a place of punishment for Satan and his demons, hell is also where those who fail to follow Jesus will go (Matthew 25:41–46). In 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9, Paul writes that "… those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."

John the Baptist warned of Jesus' treatment of those who do not believe: "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:12).

Hell is mentioned 167 times in the Bible. Sometimes it is named Gehenna, Hades, the pit, the Abyss, or everlasting punishment (Proverbs 7:27; Luke 8:31; 10:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Jesus talked about heaven and hell being real (Matthew 13:41–42; 23:33; Mark 9:43–48; Luke 12:5). Once, Jesus told a story about a man named Lazarus in heaven and a rich man in hell (Luke 16:19–31).

In modern times, the idea of hell has come under doubt, even among some popular Christian authors, teachers, and pastors. We so badly want to believe that no one will have to suffer an eternal separation from God that we begin to develop our own ideas of what is true and fair and just. However, this thinking simply puts us in the place of God. It is He who determines what is true, fair, and just. And, in His Word, the Bible, He has made it clear that hell exists and those who continue in their rebellion against Him and who do not accept His way of getting out of rebellion through His Son Jesus Christ, will suffer hell.

Hell is a real place for those who continue in their rebellion against God (Romans 6:23). But hell can also be avoided. We avoid hell by recognizing our sin, agreeing with God that we are guilty before Him, and then believing in Jesus. We acknowledge that Jesus is God, that He paid the price for our sin by dying on the cross, and that He has risen victorious over death and sin (Romans 10:9). We ask for His forgiveness and then seek to follow Him. Jesus took on and paid for our sin so that we might take on His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is by His grace, through faith, that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8–9). We cannot earn our way out of hell. Instead, we receive God's free gift through Jesus (John 3:16–18). For those who put their faith in Jesus, eternity will be spent in heaven, where God dwells (2 Chronicles 30:27) and where Jesus is preparing a place for those who love Him (John 14:2).

In the final analysis, it is up to each of us where we will spend eternity. God wants each person to choose His way and spend eternity with Him (Matthew 18:14; 2 Peter 3:9), but will not force us to choose Him (John 4:14). As John wrote, "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:10–12).

C. S. Lewis said it this way: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

Related Truth:

What happens after death?

Is there really an afterlife?

Will everyone go to heaven? Who will go to heaven?

How can I be sure that when I die I will go to heaven?

How can I be saved?

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