This question has been on my mind recently, because I read part of a magazine given to me by a member of another faith group which said about the second coming of Jesus Christ: ‘ the righteous dead and the righteous living would be taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die’. It is the words ‘unrighteous will die’ that got me, so I did a bit of self reflection. Do I believe in hell, or more importantly does the Bible say there is a literal hell?
The group in question believe that the saved will get to heaven but the unsaved will be annihilated, and that from earthly death until the resurrection, everyone is in a ‘soul sleep’ without consciousness until the second coming, and then the righteous go to heaven, and the unrighteous ‘really die’. So, the bad and evil people of this world will not suffer in hell for their murder or abuses, but just fade away. Not only that, but after their earthly death, they would not be aware of their previous existence, never mind their evil deeds. The word that comes to mind is ‘convenient’, after all who wants to think about a place of torment, let alone believe in it? Personal story. Some time ago I met parents who turned from Roman Catholicism to Jehovah Witnesses because their daughter had taken her own life, and their church saw it as a mortal sin, but if their daughter did not go to hell, or heaven, that gave them comfort, hence the move to become Jehovah Witnesses. Seventh Day Adventists among others also hold similar views, but is this right according to Scripture?
The absence of hell from some doctrines does not mean it doesn’t exist, after all the vast majority of mainstream faiths do believe there is such a place, and it isn’t enough to naively say that a loving God would not send anyone there! Isn’t our God one of love, but also justice? Without both there is no balance, or reason for either. That’s what my Bible tells me anyway. So, it’s a sobering thought, but in case you are wondering, yes I do believe there is a place of punishment for willful sin after we die, and in my opinion, that would be a literal hell.