20/20 hosted a special on Hell and it's many "versions" Friday, July 13th. Maybe people feel Hell is unlucky... I don't know. The commentator, Bill Weir, presented what I am sure he thought was a balanced view of the subject. What always amazes me about these intellectual and supposedly educated exposés, is that they don't really present the Biblical view. They don't quote any scripture and hence, we get a biased, uneducated worldview which is simply a collection of people's thoughts on Hell. I am sure the average viewer found it enlightening to hear 21 different religious and secular views of Hell. That, I guess, would allow them to make an educated guess of what Hell is to them. A friend of mine thinks that it is always good when we are confronted with eternal issues... I am always concerned that people will believe a lie and miss the real thing.
Here is a quick list of the thoughts presented: Hell is a place for evil people only, hell is reserved for the "baddest" people on earth, Hell is a representation of pain, living on earth is Hell and everyone goes to Heaven. They interviewed people that quote, "know they are going to Hell", and folks that don't want to go, as well as folks that aren't sure. The interview with rocker Marilyn Manson, a recovering drug addict from Alaska and some murderer from New Orleans brought to light the most significant views. All three were brought up in Christian homes! The drug addict had something of an out-of-body-experience, Manson seems content with his lot to be there with all his friends and the murderer didn't seem concerned about it at all.
I have said it before (SEE MY BLOG), there are many nice sentiments regarding the after life, but the Bible is pretty clear on most aspects of it. There are a few things I would like to clear up.
-1 It is most unlikely that anyone can prove or disprove that actual location and decorum of Hell. I'll leave that for the super-educated.
-2 The idea of being bad or good as a way to earn something in the afterlife is not Christian, or Biblical. The apostle Paul said that we all fall short of the mark of perfection. The word "all" that he used in the Greek means all. Therefore; no one is born, or acts good enough to go to heaven, not even Mother Theresa... she too, needed the salvation of Jesus by faith.
-3 The notion that certain acts, or combination of acts deserves an eternity in Heaven or Hell is also not Christian. There is a the law of the Old Testament and the code of conduct in the New Testament, and again, we all fall short in some way. These laws simply point out what it is that we should be doing and not doing. And yes, the more we follow them the better our Christian witness will look. In the end (pun intended) it's is who we have faith in, not what we have done. Remember, Christians are not perfect, just forgiven. Even those who don't believe in Christ can benefit by Kingdom principals, as the laws of Heaven are not subject to the whim or ideas of man. God said there would be a blessing in giving generously and loving unselfishly, and there will be. The problem is when the carnal mind tries to understand the things of the Spirit.
-4 Jesus said that He was the only way to Heaven, this is to the exclusion of all other religions. He has also willed that all men and woman be saved, and made himself known in various ways so that this would happen. That is why it is good to find Him. Salvation is not a specific religious prayer or act. It is the acknowledgement, in our hearts, of the existence of God who came in the flesh to die for our sins and rose again (alive) .
-5 By signs and wonders God backs up His claims which are true. Because Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is at work on earth as He is in Heaven, we can see the results of His working here on earth. No other god or religion claims this. They are all waiting for "some day" in the afterlife. Jesus said, "the Kingdom of God is at Hand." And it is not yet. Satan may have some look-alikes, but who would consider Satanism a way to heaven?
-6 Spiritual realities cannot be understood in terms of earthly experience. It seems that you can ask anyone who seriously believes in Non-Christian religions, psychic and/or the paranormal, that there is another realm that exists. The apostle Paul said "we see though that glass darkly (dimly)." He meant that it was difficult to see the supernatural realms, but most agree that they exist. The notion that life on earth is Hell is simply that, a notion.
With all that said, what about Hell? The Bible is clear that it is a place of torture and a place of separation from God, what could be good about that? It is also says that it is a dry an lonely place, what could be good about that? Is it a place where all the murders and rapists go? Without salvation, we would all be there. Salvation is by faith, not works. James said that faith would have good works as evidence of that transformation, not as a requirement. I guess I can't imagine why anyone would ever think that Hell was a good place? I know that some folks think Heaven will be boring without beer drinking and sex, what will they do when the get to Hell and there is no beer drinking and sex? The promise of Heaven is perfect health, that lack of tears and pain; both physical and emotional. Wouldn't it make sense that Hell would be the opposite? Heaven is the place where we live forgiven for anything that we have done... Hell the is the place where we live condemned for everything that we've done. What would it be like to live eternity in a place where we are totally and completely loved just as we are, now that's Heaven!