survey taken by Life magazine and re-ported in their December, 1998
issue found that 72% of Americans believe in heaven, while 56% believe in
hell. This survey is similar to others I have seen. More people believe
in heaven than be-lieve in hell. Just over half believe in hell.
Why do people believe as they do about
heaven and hell? The answer is clear when you see how the same people
answered another question, “Do you believe that the Bible is the Word of
God?” Only 33% said, “yes”. This means that most people’s “belief” about
heaven and hell is just their opinion, rather than their Bible-based
convic-tion. Since they do not hold the Bible to be from God, they do not
look to it as the Authority on heaven, hell or any other question.
the Bible is the Word of God (as abun-dant evidence shows that it is),
then there is a hea-ven. Jesus said, “Do not let your heart be troubled;
believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many
dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you. If I go and
prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that
where I am you may be also.” (Jn 14:1-3)
If the Bible is the Word of God, then
there is also a hell. The same Jesus, who assured men that there is a
heaven, solemnly warned that there is a hell. He said, “If your hand
causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life
crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the
unquenchable fire, where their worm does not die and the fire is not
quenched.” (Mk 9:43-44).
Jesus goes on to say that it would also
be better to lose a foot or an eye, than to go to hell (Mk 9:45-48).
None of us would like to do without a hand, a foot, or an eye, but Jesus
says that men should take extreme measures, that they should do whatever
it takes, to avoid this place of terrible and never ending suffering.
Why do more people believe
in heaven than in hell? Certainly, when you consider what people would
want to believe, a “dwelling place with God” would be much preferred to
“unquenchable fire”. But, beyond this, many people have the wrong idea
about God. They believe that He is much too loving to send anyone to
hell. Again, their idea comes from their opinion rather than their
The Bible tells us that God’s acts of
judg-ment in the past guarantee that men will be sent to hell as a
punishment for their sins. God committed the angels who sinned to pits of
darkness, He de-stroyed the ungodly of the ancient world of Noah with a
flood, He reduced Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, and He caused the
Israelites who left Egypt for the promised land of Canaan to die in the
wil-derness (cp. 2 Pet 2:4-9, Jude 5-7).
of God’s wrath against sin, of His justice, assure us that, if we accept
the Bible as the Word of God (as the evidence compels us to), then there
is a hell that awaits all men who have sinned and who have not been
forgiven of those sins.