Skeptics reject Christianity because they do not like what it teaches about hell. They say something like this, God is immoral if he sends people to hell, so therefore, the God of the Bible cannot be real.

However, most Americans believe in the reality of hell.
BARNA research in 2003 reported the following:
76% of Americans believe Heaven exists
71% of Americans believe Hell exists
But only .005 believe that they will be sent there
(“The Atlantic Monthly,” January 2004, 46)

No one would want another person to spend eternity in hell, not even their worst enemy.

CS Lewis expressed a similar view. “It is proper to wish that all will be saved. I would pay any price to be able to say truthfully, ‘all will be saved’” (CS Lewis, as quoted by J. I. Packer in Hell on Fire, 174).

But our desires do not change reality. Jesus certainly believed in hell.
Jesus spoke more about HELL than he did about HEAVEN
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:41–46, NIV84)

Jesus used LANGUAGE we can UNDERSTAND to explain three things about HELL

I. Hell is a place of Eternal Fire. DESTRUCTION
A. (Matthew 25:41–46) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
B. (Matt 5:22) “and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Gehenna, valley of Hinom, where refuse was burned)
C. Fire normally CONSUMES the material you place into it.
D. Fire needs FUEL
E. But the emphasis here is on the fact that the fire is ETERNAL.
F. People are not consumed.
G. Fire is a PICTURE meant to explain the HORRIBLE REALITY

II. Hell is a Place of ETERNAL PUNISHMENT.
A. “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”” (Matthew 25:46, NIV84)
B. The idea of ETERNAL CONSCIOUS SUFFERING is difficult to comprehend, especially in our day of post-modern thinking, inclusiveness, tolerance and acceptance of “anything goes.”
C. SOME seek a theological way out.
1. UNIVERSALISM (Rob Bell, Joel Osteen)
2. ANNIHILATION (Clark Pinnock; John Stott)

D. Both strain to find biblical evidence to support their view.
E. The Bible is clear. Hell is real and it is eternal.

III. Hell is a Place of COMPLETE DARKNESS. SEPARATION/ BANISHMENT
A. I visited a WW2 battlefield in the Philippines named Corregidor. American and Filipino engineers carved a massive tunnel in a mountain in the island and named it Milinta Tunnel. The tunnel was massive, able to house thousands of soldiers. We went in the tunnel and our tour guide turned out the lights. It was the deepest dark I have every experienced. The lights were not out for very long, but in those few moments we all gained an idea about complete darkness and isolation. It was intimidating, even though I KNEW that this was a tour, and that there was no danger of bombs falling from the sky. My friends were with me. I had my finger on my flashlight! BUT it was still CHILLING to be in utter darkness, hundreds of feet below ground. The idea hit me that IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG, I cannot get out!
B. How much darker will hell be!
C. “And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30, NIV84)

IV. Why Are We Bothered by Hell?
A. Our sense of Compassion for fellow human beings.
1. We have a sense of JUSTICE, but cannot see the need for ETERNAL judgment.
2. Both our sense of JUSTICE and COMPASSION come from being created in the image of GOD
3. Our ability to be JUST and COMPASSIONATE are limited, and flawed because of our sinful nature.
4. We are not perfect like God is perfect.
5. Therefore, we cannot understand things the way that God can.

B. Question about God’s Character. Some believe that God is IMMORAL
1. “A loving God would not punish people forever”
2. This is a logical contradiction
3. BUT God does not “send” anyone to hell, any more than a JUDGE “sends” a criminal to jail.
4. People go to hell out of their own choice. They REJECT God.
5. God’s went to ETERNAL LENGTHS to provide the remedy for sin. His Son JESUS suffered hell on earth, so we could enjoy heaven with him.
6. SO, WHEN WE REJECT HIS ETERNAL LOVE, the only just punishment is ETERNAL SUFFERING.

C. The punishment does not fit the crime. Why Eternal punishment for a mortal life?
1. We can only think about hell on a human level. One person sinning against another. But God is not another person.
2. The offended party DOES matter in determining the appropriateness of the punishment.
3. Illustration: Killing your CAT vs. killing your DAUGHTER.
4. Bible Illustration: The land owner whose son was killed by the servants who were hired to watch his vineyard. Matt 21:33-44.

I started out by saying, I would prefer that there was no hell.

But hell exists because
God is HOLY,
God is JUST,
God is SOVEREIGN,
His PLAN is perfect and complete.

God says it this way, “I would prefer that no one perish in hell.”
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV84)

V. The Hope: Jesus Endured every punishment meant for us
A. He was PUNISHED. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4–5, NIV84)

B. He was DESTROYED. “Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”” (John 2:19, NIV84)

C. He was BANISHED. “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”” (Matthew 27:46, NIV84)

Hell is not because God is cruel, it is because Satan ruined this world and people follow him rather than trust in God. God has done everything necessary for us to escape hell. Most important, his Son Jesus endured here on earth everything that we will endure in hell. By trusting in him, the punishment for our sin is placed upon him.

Trust in Jesus.

Escape the coming punishment.