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Engaging with False Teaching about Hell

by Stephen Davey

Arguments against hell can be very persuasive; they can sound more empathetic toward the plight of human suffering; they can even distort the characteristics of God to make a more “appealing” and “tolerant” version. After all, tolerance—not justice—is the leading virtue of our modern age. 

Here are a few of the most common arguments and misconceptions about hell, and how we can answer them biblically. 

Since God commanded us to love our enemies, He would never send His enemies to hell, but love them instead. 

This argument claims that if God sent His enemies to hell, that would be contrary to His character, because He is a God of love. 

Nowhere in Scripture does one attribute of God supersede any other. In fact, each and every attribute of God flows in perfect harmony with all of His attributes. If He acts in justice, He is—at that moment—no less loving. If He demonstrates His wrath, He is—at that moment—no less compassionate. God is incapable of contradicting His own nature. 

The love of God is real, and it is important, and Scripture tells us that God has evidenced His love for us (“For God so loved the world”) by His offer of salvation. But God’s love will never contradict His holiness or His justice. His justice demands that those who remain unrepentant will experience His judgment upon their death or at His second coming to earth, should they survive the Tribulation. 

The second answer to this complaint is to expose the misunderstanding of what it means to “love our enemies.” Loving our enemies doesn’t mean we ignore their sin and rebellion against God. Nor does it mean that we don’t care about their sinful lives. Loving our enemies means we extend compassion toward them, rather than cruelty. It means we love them because God first loved us. It means we care enough about them to warn them of the coming judgment of God. Loving our enemies means we accept our mission to reach them with the gospel. It means we accept their injustice and their hatred without complaint. Loving our enemies means we treat them lovingly, without any expectation or demand that they love us in return. 

Another misconception about hell is this: 

Satan and his demons will rule over all who live in hell. 

You may be surprised just how common this misunderstanding about hell is. I have known many Christians with strong theological backgrounds who have mistakenly believed that Satan is the ruler of hell and will preside over it like the god Hades presided over the underworld in Greek mythology. 

Beloved, Satan is not the commander-in-chief of hell, he’s a prisoner, forever, under the managing rule of Creator God. 

God is in control and His Word is authoritative. When deceivers and false teachers seek to diminish God’s power or divert you from His Word, remain anchored in His revealed Truth. 

Hell is not real because all roads will eventually lead to heaven. 

This is the classic argument of universalists. Let me briefly explain why you cannot believe in Christianity—in the doctrinal sense of that word—and adhere to universalist teaching. 

True belief in Christianity depends on faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God who came to earth to live and die to save us from our sins. Christians are those who believe that Jesus died for them. If anyone— regardless of whether they believe in Jesus or not—can achieve heaven, that not only makes the death of Jesus meaningless, but it also makes Jesus foolish for having suffered the agony of it. He should have simply pointed out numerous “ways” to God and saved Himself the sorrow and anguish. 

The universalist must either reject that Jesus is the Son of God, thereby He died without knowing that He didn’t need to, or that He didn’t die, and never attempted to save us from sin. 

These two beliefs—Christianity and universalism—are mutually exclusive. Anyone who takes the Word of God seriously will read the words of Jesus: “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” 

To accept Christ is to have life, now and forever, with Him in the new earth and heavens. To reject Christ is to have life, now and forever, without Him in a place of torment called hell. 

If you are reading this and you aren’t sure what your final destination will be, there’s no more urgent matter in your life than deciding: What is your decision today? 

If you are a child of God, if Jesus has purchased a ticket to heaven on your behalf, please prayerfully consider—right now—who in your life is heading toward a path of destruction, in need of God’s salvation. Don’t wait; introduce them to Jesus today! 

Add a Comment


Jackie McClelland says:
In reading Deuteronomy 7:9 I just wondered if the 1000 years blessings promised there might mean that the rapture is farther off than I think/hope. Please share what it means, Thanks!
marlene says:
what a breathe of fresh air of the truth. I never hear pastors preach on Hell anymore dont know if its because they think it will turn people of and therefore not have a big congeration or maybe they dont believe it themselves who knows but as a child growing up we heard the truth about Hell and Im so thankful and want to thank you for your article
Shirley Hope says:
Thank you for this very informative article. I don't have any doubt that hell is real, why? because the Bible says it is. And I believe in God's word above anyone else. However, I do not believe there is a burning hell right now. The Bible in the book of Revelation describes hell as the place where sinners will go when Jesus returns to take the righteous to heaven. Right now all the dead, the righteous and sinners, are asleep in their graves waiting for the Lord to return. That what God says in His word.
David Foltz says:
Thank you for your article on Hell. I will be forwarding this article to my unsaved loved ones. Please pray that they will consider Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord!
Alan Hasemeyer says:
It may help some people to know that God created Hell as punishment for Satan and his demons- not for people. However, when Adam & Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they in effect turned their backs on God, and embraced Satan. Therefore, our default destination is the same as Satan's- Hell. Fortunately, Jesus came on a rescue mission to offer us the chance to avoid Hell and spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
John Lowe says:
Thank you, Stephen, for your biblical response to these misconceptions about the reality of hell. To your point; if there is no hell, then Jesus Christ was a liar and a fool. He would have been a liar when he said there was one and He would have been a fool to die on the cross, in order to save people from something that did not exist. Hell is a reality and Jesus Christ is the only way of avoiding it. Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Dave says:
[NOTE FROM WISDOM: Even though we disagree on the eternal nature of hell, we're glad you engaged with this content. Just to clarify, nobody is in hell today. Hell will be occupied in the future, as part of the end time events, but there are no people in hell now.]

i believe in Hell,,,, but not in a Eternal Torture Chamber..... Romans 6:23 is a good example..... for the wages of sin is DEATH.... why doesn't it say "for the wages of sin is torture for eternity ? i believe if you are not a Christian you will go to Hell and be burned up and no longer exist..... Eternal separation from God..... I believe God is a just God..... as an example if i believe a person spent eternity in Hell,,,, there must be people that were born 5000 years ago that will have spent 5000 years more in hell than if someone died and went to hell today..... thanks for your time
Harvey Montgomery says:
Will a person in hell remember what he said or did on earth. Will Dr. remember performing abortions etc.
Karin Cooper says:
What a great article and very clear. I will send this to my children. Thank you for posting this!
Thomas Eldredge says:
Wrestling with this issue: Where in the Bible does it say that the unbeliever will exist (live) for eternity, albeit a horrible existence of torture forever. Isn't eternal life promised only to believers? I see only two verses in the Bible that seem to expressly say that the tortures of hell will last forever: Revelation 14:11, and Revelation 20:10. In 14:11 it says the smoke of their torment will rise forever. It seems strange to me that in all of the Hebrew scriptures the most severe punishment that is listed is to be "cut off from their people." If the unbeliever in the O.T. will suffer eternally for his unbelief, it seems strange to me that he was never clearly warned of this fate. Did not the eternal existence of the soul arise from Greek philosophy rather than the Bible? Could not the eternal nature of the lake of fire relate to the finality of the torture and pain involved in the punishment that is justly given to the unbeliever as in Luke 12:48? Must all unbelievers suffer equally long in hell?
Luke says:
"The universalist must either reject that Jesus is the Son of God, thereby He died without knowing that He didn’t need to, or that He didn’t die, and never attempted to save us from sin."

While I appreciate your attempt to bring clarity to this issue, I fear more harm than good is done by presenting the universalist position as limited to just these two options. A much more compelling universalist position would assert that while anyone can achieve heaven, Jesus' death was still necessary inasmuch as His death provided the means by which all of humanity will be redeemed, whether or not an individual comes to acknowledge that before they die.

Unfortunately, by reducing the universalist position to a straw man, I believe this article does little to persuade Christians who may encounter much more convincing versions of the universalist position beyond the false dichotomy assumed by this article.
Larry Wenning says:
You are such a good and wise teacher Mr. Davey. Your words are Biblical and make sense. They help me to understand and apply the faith that God has given me.
Mark Buchanan says:
What kinda God say I love you but if you don’t respond the way I like. It’s burning torture punishment for eternity. That not love. That’s something twisted. We in our English American version of hell is twisted - forever is the bit we have wrong. Unbelievers cease to exist - not hell forever. Go back to the original languages the English translation is bad
Judy says:
Thank you so much for your informative article on Hell. A much needed truth in our world today. it has given me a clearer understanding that I can share with lost family members.
Shade says:
Dear Pastor Davey, I really enjoyed your article about the deceptions that are taught about hell. I have read where some believe that you can still change your mind after you die on whether you love the Saviour and believe that he endured a horrible beating for the sins of all. I disagree with that sentiment. If you don't love and accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour here on Earth, then I believe that person is condemned. Like most of us, I have known people that hated our Creator and mocked the things that the Bible teaches us. Some are still living and believe that the Bible is nothing more than a bunch of stories. How sad for them!! Some that I knew rejected Christ and lived the life of an atheist and then died quickly in a car accident or something. I believe that they wouldn't have had enough time to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour in that split second before they died. They probably wouldn't have anyway. They never believed in him, and made fun of those who did. They felt Christianity was a crutch for weaklings. I believe now that those individuals are doomed and are awaiting their final punishment which will never end. I don't believe that God is concerned about them anymore. They had His love while they were living, but there is no love in hell. I feel bad for the people on TV and in life that feel either Christianity is a joke and that God isn't real, or that when you die nothing happens, there is no Heaven nor Hell. I will gladly be considered weak for believing in my Heavenly Father and in the greatest gift ever given knowing that I will get to be with Him one day, rather than be considered strong by rejecting him and suffer a never ending nightmare. Thanks for all your inspiring sermons and articles. May God bless you always for your outstanding service! Sincerely, Shade
Yolanda Burgos says:
This article is just prefect for me because I have gotten into arguments on this topic before and feel terrible afterwards for not having presented this information accurately and in a way that will help others open their eyes to the truth of this eternal doom. I plan to keep this one and to learn it well so I can tell others without turning them farther away from God.
Donna says:
Dr. Davey you said on one of your recent Wisdom for the Heart Bible teaching that all the believers in Christ will be drawn up from the grave at the moment the Rapture occurs and believers who are alive will be caught up with them in the air. The ones who rejected Christ will go to Hades to await their final judgment before Hell.
Steven Rennie says:
I believe in a literal hell, an eternal place of punishment. I don't know exactly how it will be set up. God's word speaks of a pla ce of utter darkness, weeping and the gnashing of teeth. I believe there will be degrees of punishment in hell. The word does mention flames and an eternal consciousness of the condition the person is in. Nowhere does it mention a time limited punishment because when the new heavens and earth are created, there will be no more consciousness of time. Those who enter hell will carry the same diseases, physical, mental and emotional limitations they have at death. There are no new bodies in hell. God's presence as Judge and Creator will be known to those in hell and it will cause people there to hate him even more. There will be no family ties, no friendships, only torment and an utter sense of being totally alone.