MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Joining us this morning is Clint Archer with Christ Fellowship Baptist Church. Everyone’s heard about it and no one wants to go there. It’s hell. Clint Archer’s book is called “A Visitor’s Guide to Hell.” How do you define hell?
Guest: Hell, according to the Bible, is place, outside of God’s grace and provision. It is not a state of mind, or a ceasing of existence or annihilation. It is a place of conscious, unending, suffering.
Anchor: How did you make this book appealing for both the faithful and people who aren’t necessarily religious?
Guest: The book is not published by a Christian publisher, but a secular one. The concept of Hell is such a widespread, almost universal tenet of religions, that it looms in our thinking across cultures, and I would assume most people have a curiosity about how Hell is viewed in the Bible.
Anchor: What are some commonalities among the definition of hell that crosses different religions?
Guest: There are diverse expressions of Hell in various religions, but the common thread is a place to be feared, a place to be avoided at all costs, a place of emotional and/or physical torment.
Anchor: What are degrees of punishment?
Guest: The Bible acknowledges degrees of reward in heaven and degrees of punishment in hell. Souls in Hell appear to be punished according to the amount of knowledge they had and what they did with it. For example, Jesus says in Matthew 11:20-24 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done because they did not repent.
21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.
23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”
And Judas is said to have “gone to his own place” presumably because no one had as much knowledge of Christ and then rejected it so radically.
Anchor: How do we avoid hell?
Guest: There is literally nothing you can do to not deserve Hell. You already deserve it if you have sinned even once. It is not a matter of how long you sinned, or how many times. Just like an assassination might only take a few days to plan and a second to pull the trigger, but the jail time can be a lifetime or worse. In the same way, any one sin is made against an infinitely holy God, deserves an infinite punishment. But because God loves his creation, he made a way for us to get the opposite of what we deserve: saving grace, forgiveness, mercy, love, adoption, reward, which is available to all who trust in Jesus. Jesus was the only one who did not deserve Hell, and he bore our sin and the wrath of God on the cross so that we can have our debt of sin paid, and so we can go free.