Hell is a topic many tend to avoid, yet the questions surrounding its existence, what the Bible proclaims, and what the afterlife entails are essential to ask, answer, and ponder.
It’s a subject apologist Jason Jimenez of Stand Strong Ministries recently tackled on his “Challenging Conversations Podcast,” explaining the ins and outs of the “reality of hell” and detailing why many people find the notion of being separated from God for eternity “very disturbing.”
“This idea of being tormented in eternal agony, this isn’t something people like to think about, let alone talk about,” Jimenez said. “That’s why, most of the time, we don’t bring it up. Most of the time, we want to rule it out altogether.”
Of course, heaven — the idea of a pain-free place where people spend eternity with the Lord — is much more accepted, celebrated, and talked about. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found 67% of Americans believe in heaven, with a lower percentage — 59% — embracing the idea of a literal hell.
But what does the Bible actually tell us about the less palatable concept of eternal damnation?
“Hell … if you look at the totality of Scripture, it’s a place that will last forever,” Jimenez said, noting it’s a place devoid of God and filled with people who have rejected Jesus. “I do believe that Jesus believed in a literal hell, and he taught it emphatically.”
Listen to Jimenez explain what Jesus said about hell and the afterlife:
Yet other groups take a different position on hell. Jimenez noted some believe in annihilationism, rejecting hell and instead opting for a scenario under which people who reject Christ are simply “extinguished” after death.
Another group that accepts the concept of hell believes it might not persist in an everlasting sense and might, at some point, come to an end.
Jimenez explored these different perspectives on “Challenging Conversations,” offering a detailed analysis of beliefs.
But after exploring these ideas, he then looked at Scripture to explain his position. One of the areas he explored was Genesis 5:24, when Enoch doesn’t die and is “caught up.” The NIV version of the verse reads, “Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Jimenez made his point that Jewish thought was clearly rooted in a belief in an afterlife, including hell. He then transitioned into New Testament thought, exploring Jesus’ ideas and teachings. He noted the Bible clearly teaches “Jesus existed prior to coming into the world.”
“Where did he come from?” Jimenez asked. “He came from the abode of God. He came from the dwelling on high. So, he came from heaven.”
The apologist then asked why some believe Jesus dismissed the notion of hell, specifically for those who reject him, pondering, “Why would we assume or conclude that Jesus didn’t believe in a literal hell that is everlasting for those who reject him if he believed in a literal heaven?”
In light of New Testament teachings and Jesus’ words, Jimenez naturally pondered where Christ would believe people go if they choose to reject the Lord and aren’t permitted into heaven.
“If Jesus believed in a literal heaven, but he didn’t believe in a literal hell, where do people go that reject him if he told us where people go that receive him?” he asked. “And knowing that not all people will receive him.”
Jimenez continued, “All mankind needs to be saved. Well, the Bible says that God desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. But we’re born in sin, and we have free will to choose whether or not we want to receive his forgiveness.”
Under this paradigm, people would choose whether they want to believe in and embrace the Lord. The penalty for not choosing Him would, thus, need to be considered.
“Jesus, on many occasions, spoke of post-mortem eternal life with him in heaven, where he ascended,” Jimenez added, noting Christ was also clear about hell. “If you listen now to what Jesus actually says about hell, look at Matthew 5:22.”
That verse reads, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (NIV).
Jimenez emphasized Christ’s mention of the “hell of fire,” noting this idea is reiterated and reinforced in other places in Scripture. The apologist explained why he believes this is far more than an earthly reference — one that warns of “eternal damnation” for those rejecting Jesus.
Another location in Scripture Jimenez looked to is Matthew 10:28, which reads, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (NIV).
This, too, he argued is making the case of a dangerous afterlife for those denying the Lord.
“If we love people, we will warn them of eternal damnation if they reject Jesus,” Jimenez concluded.
Listen to the full episode for more on the subject, and listen to all of the powerful episodes of “Challenging Conversations”:
Article published with permission from Billy Hallowell.
Photo courtesy: ©GettyImages/FOTOKITA
Billy Hallowell is a journalist, commentator and digital TV host who has covered thousands of the biggest faith and culture stories. He's written more than 14,000 stories on faith, culture and politics, has interviewed hundreds of celebrities, authors and influencers and is the author of four books.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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