And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:24 ESV)
What Would You Say?
It used to be when someone asked me if I believed God would send them to hell I really did not know what to say outside of “Yes, that's what the Bible says.” It was a weak response in the fact it did not open a dialogue to discuss the question and share the gospel.
Today my response is, “I believe because you even asked that question that you must have at some point really thought about this. I'll be glad to answer you, but first let me ask you a question for clarification's sake. 'If you had the opportunity to stand before a holy and perfectly pure God knowing the things you've done in your life, would you take it?'” If the person is honest they would say “No.” I then ask “Why wouldn't you take the opportunity?” It usually comes down to admitting they are too impure in their thinking or lifestyle.
I will add, “You see, if a person dies in their sin then they have to be permanently separated from a perfect and holy God for He would never allow sin to live in His presence. And wouldn't permanent separation from God be a kind of hell in itself? A person would be left in eternal darkness and despair with no hope of escape.”
Jesus gives us a glimpse of the horror of hell in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 16, that speaks of great heat and torment. Some say this is just another one of Jesus' parables (stories that illustrate a truth) and really isn't an actual occurrence. But it is something to reckon with that Jesus as Eternal Deity (John 17:5) would have known such things. He never said or even hinted His account was just an illustration.
At this point some have said “You're just trying to scare me into believing in Christ.” My response is “You should be scared. If a holy and perfect God exists then because of sin and rebellion there would have to be a hell. To answer your question, yes, if you reject Christ and die in your sins, God, according to His word, would have no other choice but to put your soul into separation in hell. But no matter where you find yourself right now you can achieve pardon, love, and acceptance by believing in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Luke 23:40-43). Will you trust Jesus? What have you got to lose?”
At this point whether they chose to believe in Christ or not I joyfully share the elation, astonishment, and awe of heaven and knowing God and His life-changing Christ for all eternity. That's the message of the gospels and one I love to tell. No matter what a person has done there is complete forgiveness and relief from guilt and shame through believing in Christ. And I might add, hell will be a place never to be experienced.