Big Questions Section
This section includes answers to some big questions. We don’t claim to have the answers (only God has all the answers!) But we hope and pray this helps you and the young people you work with. These are not definitive and you may way disagree or be able to add more, but they hopefully act as an inspiration or starting point.
There are 18 questions answered here. We must credit “When Skeptics Ask” by Norman Geisler and “Cosmic Codes” by Chuck Missler, “It makes sense” by Stephen Gaukroger and the website http://carm.org/ (Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry). We’ve tried our very best to give easy answers to the questions and then more advanced / detailed answers and even further study.
Is there really a hell?
The Bible tells us there is a heaven and a hell. Your life may seem really long now but time flies past quickly as you get older. Many people don’t like to think about a heaven or a hell because they want to enjoy their life now and not worry about what may happen in the future. But Jesus spoke about hell and about heaven. He spoke about a judgement that will happen at the end of time. This will be like a big courtroom where everyone will be completely fairly judged by God. People will be divided very simply into two sides – those who have been made right with God (heaven) and those who haven’t (hell). It’s quite scary to think about this but it’s no myth. This is very real and serious. You never know when your end may come. It may come suddenly. It’s important at any age to think about the life that Jesus can give you right now because of all he’s done for you. But also when you think about living with God forever in a perfect world, it also gives your life meaning and value every day and then beyond.
The Bible makes it very clear that hell is a real place. It makes sense just practically. There is good and there is evil. If you believe there is a heaven, there must be a hell. Many people deny that hell is real, but if you look at what the Bible says, it speaks of hell as a place that really exists.
In Mark 9:43-49, Jesus tells people to cut off their hand rather than sin and to ‘go to hell, where the fire never goes out.’ He’s not actually suggesting people cut off their hands (!) but showing how important it is not to encourage young ones to sin against God. In fact, Jesus states three times that there is a hell. Where things are repeated, they are significant. There is no question in the mind of Jesus that hell is a real place. He even quotes what the prophet Isaiah spoke hundreds of years before Jesus was born about hell, ‘“the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
Matthew 25.31-33 makes it very clear that one day Jesus will return to the earth and he will judge people for what they have done. On one side will be those who have rejected him; on the other side will be people who have believed in Jesus and obeyed him. In Matthew 25.46 Jesus says, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” The Greek word (the language this was originally written in) for ‘eternal’ is the same in both parts of the verse. Since we know that Christians keeping the faith will have everlasting life (John 10:28), it is therefore true that those who don’t believe will have everlasting punishment.
In Revelation 20:15, John says that anyone whose name is not in the ‘book of life’ is “thrown into the lake of fire”. The ‘book of life’ that Revelation talks about is simply a record of those who have believed in Jesus.
This truth should make you think about your life and the fact that one day we will all be judged. If you have heard the message of Jesus, don’t reject him. He longs for you to be with him in heaven.
But what about my friend or family member who died and didn’t believe in Jesus. Have they gone to hell? The Bible tells us that one day Jesus will judge us all. He will separate people into 2 groups – those who have believed in and trusted him and those who haven’t. None of us truly knows or can fully judge who will be in which group! Many people have Jesus speak to them just before they die and trust in him right at the moment. So never lose hope. But think about your life. None of us knows when we will die. My brother was killed suddenly at 18 in a car crash. So why not trust in Jesus today!
What about people who have never heard about Jesus? As we’ve said, the Bible tells us that God judges fairly and that he alone knows. But we have a clue in Romans 1.18-20 (Amplified version of the Bible) says:
“For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative. For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification].”
So from this we know that the world around us reveals God’s glory to all people (in every tribe, tongue, nation and through time). God has put ‘eternity in the heart’ of people (so we know inside of us there must be more to life than just this on earth). But also God has put a conscience inside of us. We can guess that God will judge fairly according to this conscience inside of people and their response to the truth of God in creation. Someone in the world may be seeking God but hasn’t heard about the true God. We can expect God to judge people fairly although we don’t know how it will happen. However, we do know that God will judge those who have heard about Jesus and rejected him!
Ultimately the only gate to God is Jesus. Never forget that. There are many ways that people meet with God and many roads up to the gate to meet God, but the only one who can open the gate is Jesus.