Universalism, Purgatory, and Annihilation
Some people have devised false doctrines to explain away hell, or the duration of it. But if hell isn't real, why would Jesus give us such a detailed description of it? Doesn't it seem logical that if Jesus knew that hell didn't exist, He would never mention it? Yet the most graphic descriptions of hell come from the lips of Jesus.
Three False Doctrines
Some have taught a doctrine about hell called Annihilation-that people will be consumed by the flames of hell and then cease to exist. This simply isn't true. At the Second Coming, the antichrist and the false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:19-20). One thousand years later, after the millennial reign of Christ is completed, Jesus casts the devil into the lake of fire "where the beast and false prophet are also." After one thousand years of being in the lake of fire, they haven't been annihilated but are "tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). They haven't been destroyed but will continue to exist throughout eternity.
Jesus said hell is an eternal fire (Matt. 18:8) and unquenchable (Mark 9:43,48). It is the place of eternal punishment for the lost (Heb. 6:2, Jude 7). These Scriptures prove that annihilation isn't true.
Others have taught a false doctrine called Universalism-that everyone will eventually be saved. However, Jesus said this (concerning Judas), "It would have been good for that man if he had not been born" (Matt. 26:24, Mark 14:21). Jesus could not have said this if he believed Judas would ultimately be saved.
At the judgment, the righteous go into eternal life and the wicked go away into eternal punishment (Matt. 25:41-46). The same Greek word is used for "eternal" for both the righteous and the wicked, meaning the duration is the same for both groups. This word is also used for "eternal God" in Romans 16:26.
Others have taught that people can pay off their sins in Purgatory and then proceed to heaven. However, the Bible doesn't teach that sins can be paid off in hell or purgatory-or that people can pray others' souls out of it. Sins can only be atoned for through the cross. If you could pay for your own sins through suffering, you would then become your own savior! To believe in purgatory, you must deny that Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6).
Hell will continue to exist throughout eternity. After the new earth is created, it says "they will go and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind" (Isa. 66:24). These corpses, described as worms, are the resurrected bodies of the wicked. This proves that annihilation, universalism, and purgatory cannot be true.
How can a loving God send someone to hell?
Romans 5:7 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." How did God demonstrate his love for us? Not by abolishing hell, but by providing the way to escape it through Jesus Christ's death.
The good news is you don't have to go to hell! Jesus Christ took the punishment for your sins on the cross and by accepting Him as your Lord, He will give you eternal life. You can find out how to escape hell by clicking here.