LONDON, February 18, 2012 — “There is no hell” wrote one reader in a comment to my recent article.
Skeptics and unbelievers often make this claim. It is, however, not a convincing one, since most us harbor a foreboding of hell’s existence.
It is a fact of psychology that most human beings have an abiding sense of higher justice. We feel that somewhere down the line wrongs will be repaid and evildoers will get their just deserts.
It is this intuition that lies at the root of popular adages such as “what goes around comes around” and “you reap what you sow.”
But even though we intuitively sense that these sayings convey deeper truth, they do not accurately describe the reality of this world. After all, in this life we see wicked acts go unpunished and bad individuals prosper. People certainly do not always get what they deserve.
It is, therefore, not unreasonable to assume that there must exist a place beyond this life where bad deeds receive their proper recompense and where justice is finally served.
This would be a place we commonly refer to as hell.
Lest you think this kind of intuition is a flimsy foundation on which to base one’s view of life and death, you should consider the case of Immanuel Kant. Widely considered the greatest modern philosopher, Kant was generally skeptical of the ability of logic to prove the existence of God. Nevertheless, Kant did believe in God and felt that our moral intuition constitutes good grounds for thinking that justice will be meted out in the afterlife.
There are many stories of hardcore villains and blasphemers who – when they neared their end – became terribly afraid to die. Apparently, the closer they came to death, the more clearly they became aware that physical demise does not terminate one’s existence. They sensed there would be judgment and that they would have to answer for their deeds.
This is an inkling most of us share. It forces itself upon conscience in various ways. Often when we commit a wrong a voice seems to whisper: “There will be a price to pay for this.” This conviction can be quite intense, but it tends to fade over time and when nothing bad happens we think we have gotten away with our sin.
Somewhere deep down, however, we sense that evil is never overlooked or forgotten. In the larger scheme of things no one gets away with anything. But it is not only the manifestly wicked who have to fear the day of reckoning. All of us have done many bad and shameful things in the course of our lives. There will come a time when they will be brought to light and we will have to answer for all our misdeeds.
The book of Revelation contains this sobering passage:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
The question you and I need to ask is this: Can I be confident I will be found righteous in God’s sight when those books are finally opened?
There is a chilling warning about what will happen to those who fail at the Great White Throne:
“And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The good news is that there is a way to escape that solemn and terrible judgment. Speaking of Jesus Christ, this is what the Apostle John wrote in the third chapter of his gospel:
“Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Born and raised under communism, Vasko Kohlmayer is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in several countries under various forms of government, but he still marvels at the goodness of God and the wonder of life.
He has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and internet journals. Vasko currently lives in Europe with his long-suffering wife and two beautiful daughters. He is the founder of The Christian Writers Foundation.
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