When it comes to heaven, most people believe in it, and most people believe they are going there. On the other hand, while some people believe in hell, most don’t think they are going there.
But Jesus made it very clear that most people are headed for hell, whether they believe it or not (Matthew 7:13–14). Hell is real, and it is described as many things—a garbage dump, a prison, and a place of complete darkness.
The most common description of hell, however, is that of an unquenchable fire. One of Jesus’ most well-known parables regarding hell comes in Luke 16:19-31, the story of Lazarus and the rich man. But while the parable depicts fictional people, it describes a very real punishment for those who reject Christ.
- People in hell suffer. The rich man uses the term torment three times in this parable, and Abraham uses it once. It is clear that the rich man is in real pain, not imagined or symbolic pain.
- Once you are in hell, you cannot cross over to heaven. The other thing made clear in this parable is that after the judgment seat of Christ, there is no changing your destination. When we are alive, we have thousands of opportunities to decide our future destination. But once our physical life ends, there are no more chances. The believer enters heaven, while the non-believer enters hell.
- People in hell are fully conscious and aware of where they are. Just as a person in heaven knows where they are and how they got there, the person in hell will know why they are where they are. They won’t be able to say they were never warned, because they will know that they had ample opportunity to change their ways.
Revelation 20:11–15 describes the great white throne judgment, the final judgment for nonbelievers. Who will be there? Everyone who has rejected God’s offer of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Rich and poor, famous and unheralded, everyone is equal (Verse 12). Why are they there? Because they did not believe in Jesus (John 3:18).
The truth is that God never intended for any person to go to hell. That place is reserved for Satan and his demons. God does everything He can to keep us out of hell, but He has also given us the ability to choose. If you want to go to heaven, put your faith in Christ. If you reject Christ, then you have also made a choice for all eternity. Choose life.