Some help to clarify hell
By drs. W.J.A. Pijnacker Hordijk (translated by Ursula Moestapa)
I offer this following study with reluctance. As a small human I want to remain modest on this major theme. Also my knowledge is imperfect.
We often hear at funerals something about life after death. We say nothing more than good things about the dead. It is also often positively assumed that the dead person is in heaven with God, and that it applies to all who have passed away. Therefore, don’t worry, things will turn out right for everyone. Partly because of this, fewer and fewer people in Western countries are freaked out about hell. More and more people are indifferent about hell, but do they have a false rest?
What? The Hell?
How well known actually is hell? While in the Christian world the hell seems to be moving to the background, the hell in the world is a common but, I fear, not so seriously taken phenomenon.
Universalism of Salvation or Universal Reconciliation (everybody will get saved) is popular. In addition, there is the belief in the humanly fabricated purgatory for the purification and penance to alleviate the punishment, and the belief in reincarnation is increasing. The hell itself is so terribly out of fashion. However, in computer games such as ‘Doom’ and in modern music , hell seems nevertheless very popular. Books, movies, music, games with the title ‘inferno’ appear to be plentiful. The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club is the name of an international motor club. The name Hell’s Angels is from a movie of the same title from 1930. After the B-17 Flying Fortress Bomber with the nickname Hell’s Angels had completed its mission for the first 25 bombardments in 1943, the whole Bomb Group adopted this nickname.
An opinion poll in 2012 among a thousand of Christians from the range of church people jn The Netherlands on behalf Nederlands Dagblad (Dutch Newspaper) and the EO (Evangelistic Organization) Program ‘Door de wereld’ (Through the World) yielded a remarkable outcome. Only 27 percent of the people questioned believes in a hell. The motive for this research was the book Love Wins  by the American Evangelistic pastor Rob Bell, who is, according to the Time Magazine, one of the most influential Christian leaders of our time.  In his controversial best seller, Bell denies the existence of hell.  His teaching is exposed by among others Oscar Lohuis  Bart Repko too has finished with the classic belief in hell, also with contradiction. 
In 1997, religion sociologist Hijme Stoffels did a research on the belief in hell with the EO supporters. At that time, about 80 percent still believed in the existence of hell, but only 35 percent thought that anyone who did not know Jesus Christ as his personal Redeemer, would go to hell. What was the reasoning for the people’s response? Who can remember a sermon about hell?
Jesus descended to hell (wrong translation: in the original text it reads: the realm of the dead) and ascended to heaven. These in themselves fallible confessions of faith that reflect the mainstream within Christianity, are explicit, with regard to hell.  The realm of the dead and hell seem to be easily confused with each other. We should actually say that Jesus had not been in hell, but in the realm of the dead; after all, hell is still empty, as I hopefully will clarify. From the scriptures of the church fathers, it appears already to be their conviction of the reality of hell. 
The old confronting poster with the two paths from Matthew 7:13,14, where the narrow path ends into heaven and the broad path into hell, has pictured heaven and hell in a human way, for we cannot imagine it in a different way. Do heaven and hell exist at all? With the evaporation of hell, death has lost its ‘terrifying nature ’.
The consequence is that in the (possible) hereafter nothing more is to be feared and nothing more to be looked forward to. If there is no hereafter, one should get as much out of it as possible in this life, for there will soon be no more settlement in the sense of a reward or retaliation.
Real wicked people, however, have no fear of hell. On the other hand, if there is no or a contemporary hell, the righteous (those who consider themselves rightly or wrongly so) seem to have no need for fear of it.
Orthodoxy, however, believes that hell does form a part of ‘the sound doctrine’. The New York preacher Keller wrote: “If I were to trivialize the Biblical doctrine on hell, I would never be overwhelmed by the height, the width and the depth of the love of Christ. And when God sees me now, He says: ‘Yes, that sacrifice was worthy of being sacrificed.’ If that does dazzle me with happiness, what does?”  With maximum input and ultimate love, did Jesus sacrifice Himself, so that we would not perish. Jesus will nót answer the commonly heard prayer (for it is a curse) ‘God damn (destroy) me!’, for He did not come to slaughter and to destroy, but He came as the good Shepherd, to give life in its fullness (Jn 10;1-18).
But does the lost sheep want to turn, convert and let himself be found (Luk. 15: 1-7)?
The Hebrew word ‘sheol’ is similar to the Greek word ‘hades’, which in the Greek Septuagint it’s the translation of ‘sheol’. These are terms for the realm of the dead for both the believers as unbelievers. Both patriarchs Jacob and the rebels Korach, Datan and Abiram as well (Gen. 37: 35, Num. 16) ‘moved’ to the realm of the dead. It is an in-between place where the souls of the dead stay before they will be judged by God Himself.
The realm of the dead is now the place where the dead, who have died without Christ, will be preserved until the final judgment and hell. Those who did die as Christians, are saved, again ‘in paradise’, but in a new location ((Lk 23: 43), which is “in the bosom of Abraham” (Lk 16: 22), “are present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5: 8) and “are with Christ” (Phil. 1: 23).
Will the Christians also come into judgment thereafter? Yes, they will, but to be assessed, and not to be judged. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (Rom. 14: 10, 2 Cor. 5: 10)
After God’s final judgment there are only two possibilities: eternal salvation in (the kingdom of) heaven with God or eternal perdition in hell without God. The second death (Rev. 20: 11-15) is the situation after the final judgment. There is a consciousness or existence in the second death. The following terms and synonyms describe hell.
1. Hell  (Mat. 5: 22, 29, 30; 10: 28; 18: 9, 23: 15, 33; Mk 9: 43, 45, 47; Lk 12: 5; Jam. 3: 6), is used eleven out of twelve times by the Lord Jesus Himself. For unknown reasons the New Dutch Translation doesn’t translate the word ‘Gehenna’, neither with ‘hell’, but it keeps this Greek word in it. In the dictionary of this Bible version, we read below Gehenna “Place in the realm of the dead where sinners undergo their punishment.” No other than Jesus therefore has taught the reality of hell.
From the 1,870 verses that reflect the statements of Jesus, 13 percent are about judgment and hell. And out of the 12 times that the word ‘Gehennna’ - the strongest Biblical word for hell - appears in the New Testament, there is only one case where Jesus was not the speaker (James 3:6 particularly). The word ‘hell’ is therefore the translation of Gehenna. ‘Ge’ means ‘valley’. Henna is derived from the Hebrew ‘Ben Hinnom’ (Jos. 15:8, 18:16). Gehenna comes from the valley of Hinnom, where the fires were always burning for the forgery of iron, where the dead bodies of criminals, whose right for a funeral and in that way the resurrection has been forfeited, were burnt.
In 2 Kgs. 16: 3 and 2 Chron. 28: 3 we read about the horrifying deeds that king Ahaz committed in the valley of Ben Hinnom. “He burned incense in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and burned his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel”. From 2 Kgs. 21: 6 and 2 Chron. 33: 6 it appears that also king Manasseh was blamed for the same abominations, but that he committed yet other abominations in the Valley of the son of Hinnom: “Also he caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger”. The God fearing king Josiah put an end to the occult practices there (2 Kgs 23: 10, see also Jer. 7: 32, 19: 6, 11). This valley became a symbol for the eternal judgment. We could compare the development of this limited earthly place in Jerusalem into the horrifying and greatest concept of ‘hell’, with the place of ‘Mecca’ in Saudi Arabia developed into ‘mecca’ as the ultimate Eldorado or Paradise.
The Dutch word ‘hell’ is etymologically attached to ‘helen’ or ‘hide’.
Hell indeed goes beyond our ability to perceive.
2. Eternal punishment (Mat. 25: 46). This portion is not about the judgment over individuals, but over the peoples around Israel: how did they treat God’s people? See verse 32. This is a judgment over peoples.
3. The fiery furnace (Mat.13: 42, 50); with an everlasting unquenchable fire (Mat. 3: 12, 25: 41, Mk 9: 43, 44, 48, Lk 3: 17, Jude. 6, 7, 13); the Lake or sea of fire (Rev. 19: 20, 20: 1-3, 10, 14, 15, 21: 8); hell fire (Mat. 5: 22; 18: 9), see also Heb. 10: 27 and Isa. 26: 11.
4. (Outer and darkest) darkness (Mat. 8: 12, 13: 42, 50, 22: 13, 24: 51, 25: 30, 41, 46, Mk 9: 47, Lk 13: 28). Outside the New Jerusalem, outside heaven and outside the earth, somewhere in the universe. This is beyond our comprehension .. It would seem to be a mysterious black hole.
5. A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat. 8: 12; 24: 51), in other words: it’s the place of torture.
6. A place of everlasting punishment (Mat. 25: 46; 2 Thess. 1: 9).
7. A place of eternal tribulation, anguish and destruction (Mat. 7: 13; Rom. 2: 9; 9: 22, 1 Thes. 5: 3, 2 Thes. 1: 9).
8. The abyss (abyssos) (Lk 8: 31, Rev. 9: 11, 20: 1), the deep part of the underworld, also called the bottomless pit. Is that the ‘insurmountable gap’ from Lk 16:26?!
9. The abyss (tartarus) (2 Pet. 2: 4- 9).
What is hell?
A definition of hell reads: “(in Christianity) the earlier and still as a subterranean thought, eternal dwelling place of those who are condemned, a condition of terror, where the rigid sinner is being punished for his sins and the dwelling place of devils and evil spirits. 
God is omnipresent. In Ps. 139: 8, David, inspired by God, declares that even God is present in the realm of the dead. And thereafter? Most Christians define hell as the absence of relationships, therefore including the relationship with God, so as the place of God forsakenness. But reverend J. Hoek states: “Hell is the place where God’s presence is hidden at the deepest. He is therefore not absent there, but present as holy Creator and Judge.”
God created heaven and earth, where there was a certain plan behind. God did not create heaven and hell. Hell is therefore not created by God, but was (later?) called into existence as ‘a room for hatred’ for evil angels and humans (Mat. 25: 41).
How could anyone describe something inhuman in human concepts? The gnashing of teeth reflects the agitations and remorse of hell citizens, because they have lived in unrighteousness and have rejected the salvation of Jesus. How can a soul gnash its teeth in hell? That it’s about visual language here and not ‘report language’, which appears also from the fact that fire releases light, but then hell in literal sense cannot be a deep darkness. We therefore should consider some things symbolically, but those symbols do reflect a terrifying reality.
The resurrection will be physical. By the tortures in hell, bodies will suffer, but differently than according to the speculations of the painter Jeroen Bosch or the Divine Comedy of Dante. 
Hell is in no way a torturing room where sadistic devils content themselves in the pain of lost humans. The devil and his demons themselves were not sent to hell for their pleasure, after all, they themselves will be tortured there. Otherwise God’s adversaries would ultimately still triumph and enjoy their human preys.
The devil will get the worst place in hell together with his mate death.  In hell the evil will punish itself, for men will be left to themselves, thus to their self-focus and to the powers of darkness to whom they have attached themselves.
According to Pawson, hell is a place of 1. Physical discomfort; 2. Moral depression; 3. Moral corruption; 4. Serious distress; 5. Spiritual death. 
Tim Keller adds: “Hell is what the world calls freedom: just do whatever you like. There’s no God than you alone.”  According to C.S. Lewis, hell is the largest monument of human freedom. “The unbeliever will not only be in hell, but hell will also be in him.” 
According to Luke 16, hell is a horrifying amount of denial, blaming others and spiritual blindness, pride, self-pity, the assertion that everyone is wrong and crazy.
C.S. Lewis (in ‘The great divorce’) claimed that hell is simply someone’s voluntarily chosen identity separated from God, in a trajectory with infinity as the direction.
It is not so that ‘God sends us to hell’. In all of us something is growing which shall become hell, unless it is nipped in the bud. Both heaven and hell have already made a beginning, the eternal life for the good or for the bad has begun.
What is there in hell? A memory anyway (Lk 16: 25 [Probably the story of the rich man and poor Lazarus is not a parable for several reasons.]), pain (Lk 16: 23-29), recognition, communication (Isa. 14: 9-11).
How can a God of love be filled with wrath and anger at the same time?
How can God’s love triumph if the realm of darkness remains to exist as an eternal wound in the body of the glorified creation?
 How can a God of infinite love make the well-considered decision to expose humans in their full consciousness to everlasting physical and spiritual torment?
Nevertheless, hell is not in conflict with God’s love, but a result of a consistent rejection by man of God’s love, which went to the ultimate. Nobody is being forced against his will to go to heaven.
This place of light would only be a torment to men who loved darkness rather than light, for they feel more at home in hell (at least, that’s what they think at the moment).
He who wants to shake God off of himself, will finally get what he wants, although that won't turn out to be much fun in hindsight. Hell is in no way a place where men who do want to go to heaven want to be. Why would you after death, suddenly desire to have a heavenly life with someone whom you never cared about during your lifetime? People often would love to go heaven, but refuse to submit to God or to the conditions that God requires. God eventually gives men in this life over to their own desires (think of selfishness, self-focus, egoism). According to C.S. Lewis there are two kind of men: those who say to God: “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says: “Your will be done”.
Hell is not only a punishment, but also a choice. God will not force anyone who doesn’t want to change in order to dwell with Him in a world of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Thus hell is the final product of sin. But if God would not have wanted hell, can it then still exist forever? As a counterpart to the reconciliation, which was only added after the Fall of man, it certainly can.
The debate on the existence of hell has mainly to do with changing images of God and exalted images of man. For the modern man, God should above all be caring and gentle and He must offer safety. We ourselves have created a generous God and believe in a sweet Jesus. This is how we diminish His sovereignty and determine arrogantly how He should act.
God is, actually in line with the zeitgeist, degraded to a dull Santa Claus, a good saint , and in that way hell becomes increasingly unruly.
That perfectly fits in our prosperity society. What a one-sided image, for God certainly does know wrath and severity. In His wrath God never sins. This completely holy God is as much as a God of righteousness, which is to the great comfort of societies that groan under violence, corruption, exploitation, and all kinds of horrible cruelties. His anger about the injustice that men do to one another is infinitely much bigger than we realize. But on the other hand, God’s love is immeasurable. The God of love, we just find in Judaism and Christianity. 
We should realize that God also in His wrath, in His assessment and judgment is and remains good. His goodness (overwhelming goodness) lasts through eternity. Everybody will have to acknowledge that. God’s mercy is not cheap. God’s character is not to be divided in separate character features, and especially not to be played off against each other, for God is one. His character is as it were one total package.
God is both the righteous and the merciful Judge, who has the last word, who gives the Final Judgment. The Lord Jesus is both the Lamb and the Lion. Exactly the lack of faith in a God of vengeance is feeding violence in secret. If I don’t believe in a God who finally will make everything right, I myself will take the sword and be sucked into an endless whirlpool of retaliation. Only if I believe that there is a righteous God that will restore all consequences of evil and injustice and will settle all the accounts (Rom. 12: 19), I have the strength to refrain from violence. Would it be unjust if the rich could afford to have all kinds of luxurious holidays annually, while the poor certainly could not? What an imbalance or injustice! Denying hell is at odds with God’s righteousness.
Gradations in punishment
How is the absolute contradiction between heaven and hell to be reconciled with the numerous gradations of more or less good and evil that exist among men? There are indeed gradations in punishment: Lk 12: 47, 48 (depending on your fore-knowledge) and Mat. 11: 20-24 (whether or not converting in response to powers). Terms like “heavier punishment” (Heb. 10: 26-31), “heavier judgment” (Mk 12: 40, Lk 20: 46, 47), “much or little success” (Lk 12: 47, 48), “piling wrath” (Rom. 2: 3-6) confirm the gradations in the measure of punishment.  The eternal punishment is not out of proportion as a result of sin in the contemporary life, for the measure of punishment is not determined by the duration of the violence, but by its character, in other words: withholding the eternal God from His honor.  God is eternally holy and He finds sin eternally unacceptable.
Does the eternal damnation really last forever?
Most protestant Christians believe in the immortal soul. Therefore they believe that moral and spiritual mistakes have eternal influence on the soul. Nevertheless, hell is not everlasting for all men. The members of the Reformed church (75%), the Free Reformed Church and the Evangelicals (64%) stick to the idea that hell is a place of eternal torment.  Thus, by no means all Christians.
If we think about the duration, two Greek terms are important:
1. Aion century, a long period.
2. Aionios pertaining to the century or eternal.
Some people think that eternal is considered to be the worst punishment of God. Is it rightful to have an everlasting punishment for deeds committed in a contemporary life? The Lord Jesus has not been damned to eternity for the sin that He bore, has He?! However, in Rev. 14: 11, 20: 10 we read ‘forever and ever’, thus an everlasting torment for the devil, the beast, the false prophet and their followers.
There is certainly a distinction between ‘contemporary’ and ‘eternal’: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer person is decaying, yet our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal”. (2 Cor. 4: 16-18).
If people will perish forever, then death has yet won and God lost, is it not? Partly because of that, the late orthodox theologian John Stott suggested in 1988 that unbelievers will not be tormented forever in hell, but will cease to exist. The fire consumes, destroys, so that one will no longer exist. David Pawson absolutely doesn’t agree to that: “Hell is emphatically no place of elimination (as it is increasingly suggested more often), for elimination means an absolute end to a life. But the life of man is not finite.” 
According to Rob Bell and Wim Hoogendijk , hell is “a trajectory of punishment and penitence, with repentance and conversion as a goal”. This is however, a false teaching that sooths men asleep with a false security, which we should unmask. Hell is not a re-education institute, nor a place of elimination, but of retaliation. Is there conversion possible in hell? Torture under agonizing pain doesn’t bring men to conversion (Rev. 9: 20, 21, 16: 9, 11, 21). Nevertheless, supporters of this come up with three texts: 1 Pet. 3: 19, 20, 4: 6 and 1 Cor. 15: 29. The explanations of this are ultimately unsure, so that no far reaching conclusion can be connected to it. Johan van Arkel claims that the idea ‘eternal’ in Scripture often doesn’t have the meaning of everlasting.  After all “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime;.” (Ps. 30: 5)
This is in line with the purgatory (a Roman Catholic dogma, established by Councils, and also presented during the Second Vatican Council). If there is no hereafter, the necessity to ask for pardon has also disappeared.
Nowhere in the Bible there is a mention of a second chance after death, just as there is no Scriptural evidence for reincarnation (where a quarter of the Dutch population believes in), because people love to have second chances (Heb. 9: 27)
The same word ‘eternal’ is used for both punishment and for life as well on the new earth (Mat. 25: 46). The one group will exist forever without God’s love and the other group forever in the warmth of God’s love. The Lamb will always, thus eternally, be in the center.
The holy angels and the Lamb will watch those who worship the beast be tormented forever and ever (Rev.14: 9-11). Just as the worship of God will not be silenced (Rev. 5: 13), the torment will not end. In hell there are no painkillers available, no, the tortures will go on through all ages.
The torment of the devil, the beast and the false prophet will take place day and night, thus ceaselessly (Rev. 20: 10). There the worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched (Mk 9:48). The fire will therefore never extinguish by the lack of fuel …
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and to eternity. It is not just about the quality, but also about the understanding of time. The same goes for an eternal destruction (Rev. 4: 10, 10: 6, 11: 15, 14: 11, 2 Thes. 1: 8, 9). If hell will come to an end by replacing ‘eternal’ with ‘finite’, then there will also come an end to heaven and to Jesus (!) and who has the nerve to bear that consequence?  Is the eternal God (Ps. 90: 2; Rom. 16: 26) perhaps also contemporary then?
Will therefore eternal life also end? God is not a God of arbitrariness who speaks different tomorrow than today, so that we can let go of the statements of faith from the past.
For whom is hell?
Is hell also for people who have never heard about the gospel?
Will the joy of those who are saved or the ‘saints’ in heaven not be overshadowed by the awareness that the lost are eternally tortured in hell? Everyone who does love, is sometimes filled with anger, not in spite of, but because of their love. An ultimate form of hatred is indifference. The Lord Jesus has exactly come to save people from that eternal judgment. Adrian Plass says: “If there’s no hell, then I cannot understand why Jesus tried so exceedingly hard to save people from it.” From what actually? From our negative self-image or from the eternal damnation? In most cases, Jesus Himself spoke about the hell (shockingly and explicitly) and then often to His followers. Jesus addressed His followers or God fearing Jews, not the atheists. Jesus warned His own followers that they run the risk of ending up in hell. In that way He wanted to exhort them to continue to seek the good and to follow Him. God really wants everyone to be saved and therefore doesn’t want hell (Jn 3: 16, 1 Tim. 2: 4, 2 Pet. 3: 9). There is an absolute or irresistible will of God, which will come to pass no matter what. But there is also a will of God connected to circumstances, His resistible, desiring will or His desire, which unfortunately will not always be fulfilled. Jesus is potentially the Savior of all men, but He becomes only really the Savior, if He is accepted in faith by men. In that salvation it’s about a personal faith in the reconciliation by Jesus Christ, to which the fruits should testify. Without conversion there is no reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5: 19 says that God in Christ was reconciling the world to Himself. That’s quite different than was reconciled to Himself. There is only one way to the Father and that’s by believing in or trusting in His Son Jesus Christ. He gave Himself without reservation, in order to redeem man from the judgment that he brought to himself. Believing in Christ means to become saved, so that one will not perish. If you perish, you enter into perdition, and no one will be able to find you (Jn 3: 16). All tears, thus also the ones that the believers have shed because of their loved ones whom they will be missing in heaven, will be wiped from their eyes (Rev. 7: 17, 21: 4).
If you desire that everyone goes to heaven, you level out the difference between good and evil and in that way violate the sense of justification. Limitless love is no love, but disinterest. Without faith in a hell after this life makes this life a hell. . The torturer should not get away scot-free, so that the victim remains behind forever. If an unrepentant villain like Dutroux will also come in heaven, then you shouldn’t want to be there as well. That shows no love for the victims, does it?
What must I do to come into hell? Nothing at all! Even to God fearing Jews it was said: “Be saved from this perverse generation!” (Acts 2: 40). Popularly said: “You deserved hell, but you can obtain heaven.” After all: “He who doesn’t believe [in Jesus] is already condemned” (Jn 3: 18); However “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish [thus it’s possible!], but have eternal life.”(Jn 3: 16)
The eternal fire was not prepared for men, but for the devil and his angels. Heaven and hell are deeply relational: they are the outcome of a “yes” or a “no” to what God has done in Jesus.
The final judgment
We leave the final judgment to God, and it is not speculation that fits us, but restraint. Saved are those, if they respond in faith and humility, to what they know about God, by the revelation of His Spirit (Lk 12:48).
“God is not a bookkeeper that makes up the balance at the End of the ages and in accordance with the established regulations, deals with the judgment administratively.” He is a living God, full of mercy and compassion.
The Final Judgment is fortunately not up to a fallible and limited man, but to the Supreme Judge who is righteous and loving and merciful as well, and perfect in holiness. He takes both the alleviating and burdensome circumstances as well into consideration in His judgment. Our good God will therefore judge righteously and accurately and will fully consider everyone’s responsibility and accountability, briefly said: everyone’s personal situation. We should show great restraint on this final judgment, for only God fathoms the deepest inner self of man.
While the realm of the dead is filling up (Isa.14: 9-15) hell is still empty at the moment. First the beast, the false prophet and the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 19: 20, 20: 10). Hell was initially created for the devil and his henchmen (demons) (Mat. 25: 41). The devil will be thrown down on earth from heaven (Rev. 12: 9), then cast into the abyss (Rev. 20: 3) and finally be thrown in the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20: 10). The realm of the dead itself will also be thrown in the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 14). “We after all know the One Who has said: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’ and also: ‘The Lord will judge over His people.’ “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (Heb. 10: 30, 31).
Is there no hell? Then there’s no necessity for evangelization and missionary work. Then in over twenty centuries the countless sacrifices of missionaries have been redundant. That’s a pity for all those Christians who then apparently have sacrificed their lives in vain in obedience to the great commission. Then we believe in the universal reconciliation, a contemporary punishment for purification, which ultimately will result in the reconciliation between God and all people. The universal reconciliation is cruel, because in the Final Judgment there will be no ‘correction’ . However, not the universal reconciliation is the subject of this study, but hell is. This false doctrine of universal reconciliation claims to be relying on all kinds of texts. But we must respect an important hermeneutical rule here, namely: clear texts determine the explanation of less clear texts and not the other way around.
If there is a hell, then that gives an enormous stimulus to spread the gospel in word and deed. By the means of the message ‘Repent, for otherwise you’re going to hell!’ is no longer brought, for fear is a bad drive. Fear, after all does raise obedient Christians, but not loving believers. The punishment cannot be paid off by the letting off nor by any form of penance or good works, for after all, we cannot add anything to the redemptive work of Christ. Exactly by wanting to add something to Christ’ completed redemption work, we take away something of it and pretend as if it would be not sufficient. Indeed: everyone will have to confess that Jesus is Lord. This acknowledgment can now already come voluntarily from the lips of those who are saved, but will otherwise be forced to be confessed by others. Jesus is the Lamb that in principle has taken away the sins of the world (Jn 1: 29), but that doesn’t mean that therefore all men will be saved in the end. In principle, Jesus gave His life as a ransom for many, even for all men. But not all men will accept the atoning sacrifice of Jesus and be served by Him. The judgment lies before us if we do not believe that in Christ it lies behind us.
The awareness that there is an eternal perdition, therefore only reinforces the interest of evangelization. The deputy director of the IZB (Organization for Internal Mission and Evangelization), Marja Brak wrote a commendable plea: “in evangelization, the eternal perdition of men is much less of a motive to get to work than in early days. Not only because the territory-gaining thought that everyone will be okay or that all religions nevertheless amount to the same thing. Also because in current evangelization, in which the emphasis is put on friendship and mutual respect, it’s quite difficult to say straightforwardly to someone: ‘If you don’t believe, you will perish.’ There where hell becomes a taboo, heaven also loses its brilliance.”  If we ourselves don’t even realize that we have been dragged away by Him in front of the gates of hell, how would we then be driven to missionary work  and evangelization? We therefore wonder and turn against the missionary zeal of the supporters of the universal reconciliation with their message ‘just go to sleep, everything will be alright.’
The judgment and the fire of hell are not ‘doctrines’ to consider without commitment. This serious knowledge about our eternal destination calls for action. For us, it comes down to taking seriously Jesus’ own words. He knows the way, he guides the way and is the way to His and our heavenly Father. In theory, everyone is expected ‘to come home’, but in practice ….
Enclosure: Six views on hell with some of their supporters: 
1. Everlasting, conscious physical and spiritual torment. He who perishes, will be tormented in hell through eternity, both physically and spiritually.
‘Traditional Christians’ / orthodox Christians: Tertullian, Augustin, Luther, Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, H. Taylor, Donald Carson, Ajith Fernando, James Packer, David Pawson, W.H. Velema, J. van Genderen, Bram van de Beek, Johannes de Heer, Bill Hybels, W.J. Ouweneel.
2. Everlasting conscious spiritual torment.
He who perishes, will spiritually, not physically be tormented in hell through eternity.
Marray Harris, Anthony Hoekema.
3. Eternal separation from God. The emphasis on the horror of being totally separated from God through eternity. Hell is more a metaphorical than physical torment. Kendall Harman, Peter Head, C.S. Lewis.
4. Conditional immortality (Conditionalism).
The human soul is not immortal; Only those who are justified in Christ, receive immortality. For those who don’t come to faith, death will be the end. Hell is not eternal, but will just like the tormented ones in hell, once be destroyed.
‘Conditionalists’: Arnobius, L.J. van den Brom, Robert Brow, Edward Fudge, Clark Pinnock, Nigel Wright.
5. Annihilation: Hell as ‘destruction’ (annihilatio). This strongly looks like what the Buddhists see as redemption (nirvana)  .
Ultimate Annihilation of the unbelievers: the ‘fire’ of hell is not an everlasting torture, but a consuming, destroying fire.
‘Annihilationists’: Justian the Martyr, Theophilus from Antioch, Henry Constable, Edward White, Michael Green, John Stott, John Wenham, the Anglican Church , Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists, H.J. Verwoerd (from ‘The Prophetic Word’). Denijs van Zuijlekom in the Magazine “Amen”.
6. Universalism, Universal Reconciliation. Everyone will be saved and enter into heaven, whether or not after a contemporary purification in purgatory or in the purgatorium, or fulfilling the punishment in hell.
‘Universalists’ / Liberal Protestants: Origenes  , Gregorius van Nyssa, Karl Barth, Hans Küng, Jürgen Moltmann, (Missionary man!) Joh. Verkuyl, (Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Barth, G.C. Berkouwer, H. Berkhof, Okke Jager en majoor A.M. Bosshardt  also move in this direction), John Murray Founder of the Universalist Church of America, with Hosea Ballou / the unitarians: Unitarian - Universalist Church  , C.H. Dodd, William Barclay, John A.T. Robinson, Rob Bell, Jan Bonda, Johan ter Beek, Bart Repko, C. van Hoeven  Founder of the strongly dispensational (supporting the doctrine of dispensationalism) Eben Haezergemeente at Rotterdam. In the ultra-dispensational movements, it’s particularly A.E. Knoch and in the Netherlands A. Lukkien, who proclaimed the Doctrine of universal reconciliation.
* Ajith Fernando, Crucial Questions about Hell (Sussex UK: Kingsway, 1991), reprinted in 1993, 190 pages; Belangrijke vragen over de hel (Important questions about Hell) (Apeldoorn: Novapres, 1998) 185 pages
* Dr. J. Hoek, Hoop op God, eschatologische verwachting (Escatological expectation) (Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum (Book Center), 2004), 344 p.
* C.S. Lewis, De grote scheiding (The Great Divorce) (Zwolle: Kok, nieuwe vertaling 2002), 111 p.
* David Pawson, De weg naar de hel (The Way to Hell) (Putten: Opwekking (Revival), 2004), 252 p.
* Bart Repko, Kom niet aan de hel. (Don’t mess with Hell) De eeuwige hel heeft zijn langste tijd gehad. (Eternal Hell has been around for the longest time (Aalsmeer: Exchange, 2013), 276 p.
* Thomas Talbott, De onweerstaanbare liefde van God (The irresistible love of God) (Sliedrecht: Merweboek, ?)
* Martine van Veelen en Cees Dekker, Hete Hangijzers (Difficult Issues), antwoorden op 17 kritische vragen aan het christelijke geloof (Answers to 17 critical questions to the Christian Faith) (Amsterdam: Buijten & Schipperheijn, 2009), Hoofdstuk 9 (Chapter 9): Je kunt toch niet geloven in een God die onschuldige mensen straft in een hel?( Surely you can’t believe in a God who punishes innocent people in a hell, can you?) Geen martelende duivels maar gerechtigheid van God (No Torturing Devils but the Righteousness of God) (Bram van de Beek) Een hoopvolle toekomst voor heel de mensheid (A hopeful future for the whole mankind) (Johan van Arkel & Martine van Veelen).
Zie mijn uitgebreide studie (See my extensive study) http://www.stichting-promise.nl/artikelen/muziek-en-occultisme/met-de-moderne-muziek-mee-brochure.htm.
Rob Bell, Love Wins, Nederlandse vertaling (Dutch Translation) En de meeste van deze is Liefde, een eerlijk boek over hemel en hel (An Honest Book on Heaven and Hell) (Kampen: Kok, 2012). Bell verwacht van Gods liefde alles: inkeer, bekering, innerlijke transformatie. (Bell expects everything from God’s love: Repentance, conversion, inner Transformation) Boeken die Bell van repliek dienen zijn (Books that reply to Bell) ‘Erasing hell, What God said about eternity, and the things we made up’ and Mark Galli God Wins: Heaven, Hell, and Why the Good News is Better than Love Wins (Tyndale, July, 2011).
Johan ter Beek, Er is geen hel na de dood (There’s no Hell after death), Nederlands Dagblad, 21-4-2012
 Slechts een kwart van de christenen gelooft dat de hel bestaat (Only a quarter of the Christians believe that Hell exists), Nederlands Dagblad, 21-4-2012
 Oscar Lohuis, Een misleidende boodschap (A Deceptive message), De Oogst, mei 2012 en Oordeel of alverzoening (and Judgment or Universal Reconciliation), De Oogst, mei 2012 pp. 26-29 en www.goednieuwsbediening.nl/artikelen-2/340-een-misleidende-boodschap-over-de-alverzoening (The ministry of the Good News, a Deceptive message on the Universal reconciliation)
“The punishment for sin comes from God. Jesus died on the cross because God is a God Who punishes sin. Man needs to be saved from the judgment of God. Bell denies this very directly. After he mentioned the doctrine of reconciliation, he writes: ‘People are told in a subtle way that Jesus saves us from God. Let this be unambiguously clear: we don’t need to be saved from God’ (p. 189). Nevertheless, this is the depth of what happened on the cross: the righteousness of God demands the death of the sinner. Indeed, God Himself is the biggest threat to man.
Indeed, God has determined a day that He will judge the world righteously (Acts 17:31).
But the love of God caused Him to give His Son as an atonement for our sins. God has punished His Son instead of us. If you take away the judgment, you will not understand what happened at the cross at all”.
See e.g.. www.dirkjanjansen.nl/site/index.php/bijbelse-onderwerpen/87-bestaat-de-hel (Biblical subjects. does Hell exist)
 Elma Drayer en Lodewijk Dros, Heimwee naar de hel, (Homesick for Hell) Trouw de Verdieping, 21-12-2002
In the middle of 1997, the report titled “Secularization and alternative sense of meaning in the Netherlands by the “Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (Social and Cultural Planning office)” was published. It showed that 21 percent of our population then believed that the devil exists and not more than 16 percent believed that hell exists.
* The Apostolic Confession of faith (the origin in the first and second century after Christ): article 4 in the Roman Catholic and ‘Old’ protestant version, but not in the original: “Who had suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, had died and was buried, went down to hell.”
* The Confession of Faith of Athanasius (traditionally ascribed to Athanasius (295-373), arch bishop of Alexandria: article 36: “Who had suffered on behalf of our salvation, went down to the realm of the dead, rose from the dead on the third day.” Art. 39 “And those who did the right thing, will enter eternal life, but those who did evil, will enter the eternal fire.”
* (The Lutheran) Augsburg Confession from 1530, Article 17: “Unbelievers and devils will be ceaselessly tormented.”
In the confession of faith of Nicene-Constantinople from 325 is missing in an article about Christ’ visit to the realm of hell.
 Ignatius in his commentary on the Ephesians, The Shepherd of Hermas, the Letter from Barnabas, Justin the Martyr in his Apology, Irenus, Tertulian. H. Buis, Merill C. Tenney general editor The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible volume 3 (Grand Rapids, Michgan: Regency Reference Library, 1976), p. 116 Hell / 4. The early Church.
Tim Keller, Lazarus and the nameless rich man, CV.Koers, nov. 2004, p. 47
J.W. Embregts, De Hel Jezus sprak er het meeste over (The Hell: Jesus spoke most of it) (Doorn: Het Zoeklicht, 2009) p. 41, 42
 Van Dale Groot Woordenboek van de Nederlandse Taal (Great Dictionary of Dutch Language (Utrecht/ Antwerpen: van Dale Lexicografie, 2005) deel 1, p. 1352
 The Divine Comedy (La Divina Commedia) is an epic tale by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, from the first part of the 14th century. It’s one of the best known masterpieces of world literature, and the greatest cultural medieval works.
Dante describes in the Comedy his fictional journey through the hereafter: the hell, purgatory mountain and heaven. He is both the author and the actor as well in his own poem, which had been called Dante II for a long time. Initially, Dante called his magnum opus simply My Comedy; it was Boccaccio who in 1360 gave it its current honorary title. In the Middle Ages, a comedy was a story that ended well, in contradiction to a tragedy; the word is not used here, because the work would be assumed to be humoristic.
Wikipedia. In 2013, Dan Brown, author of the De Da Vinci Code, tapped into this with his thriller Inferno, (Amsterdam Luitingh-Sijthoff, 2013). 480 pp. For a review, see: Willem van Hartskamp, Dan Brown stort zich op Dante (Dan Brown plunges into Dante), Nederlands Dagblad, Gulliver-bijlage 7-6-2013.
 Bram van de Beek, Geen martelende duivels maar gerechtigheid van God, (Not torturing devils but God’s righteousness) p. 169, in Hete hangijzers (Difficult Matters), Martine van Veelen and Cees Dekker (redactie) antwoorden op 17 kritische vragen aan het christelijke geloof (17 answers to critical questions to the Christian faith) (Amsterdam: Buijten & Schipperheijn, 2009)
 Pawson waarschuwt Pawson warns): De hel is er ook voor u, (There’s Hell also for you) Uitdaging, november 2004.
 Tim Keller, Lazarus en de naamloze rijke (Lazarus and the nameless rich man), CV. Koers, nov.2004, p. 46
 John Blanchard, Whatever happened to Hell? (Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2e druk 1993), p. 143
 Dr. Jan Hoek, Eeuwige pijniging of verterend vuur (Eternal torment or the consuming fire) De hel in het actuele theologische debat (Hell in the topical theological debate), CV.Koers, nov. 2004
 Hans L.J. Keijzer, Is de hel afgeschaft? (Has Hell been abolished?) De Oogst, sept. 1996, p 5.
 In Buddhism there is no personal God and in Islam there’s an intimate and personal knowing of God missing)
 See also Matthew 23:15, Revelation 18:5-7
Ds. Arie Verduijn, Naar de hel (To Hell)? Dat geloof je zelf toch zeker ook niet meer?!? (You surely no longer believe that yourself, do you?!), de Oogst, april 2002, p. 8
 Ronald Westerbeek, Het pijnpunt van je geloot (The sore point of your faith), CV.Koers, nov.2004, p. 10
 Pawson waarschuwt: De hel is er ook voor u. (Pawson warns: Hell is there, also for you) Uitdaging, nov. 2004
 Wim Hoogendijk sprak zich uit over de hel op 15 aug. 2008 tijdens het Xnoizz Flevo Festival, wat ook deiningen gaf in het Nederlands Dagblad. (Wim Hoogendijk spoke about Hell on 15th August at the Xnoizz Flevo Festival, which also caused some stir in the Nederlands Dagblad (Christian Daily Newspaper).
Statement by Wim Hoogendijk:
- If you believe that the denial of Jesus will result in an endless torment in hell, it’s a felony to bring a child into this world.
- Torment in hell as a punishment for a wrong decision in a temporary life you haven’t asked for is totally out of proportion.
- Judgment is basically an expression of God’s love and flows out in mercy.
- Evangelical universalism is nothing more or less than: the ultimate Sukkoth Festival.
 J.W. Embregts, De Hel Jezus sprak er het meeste over (The Hell, Jesus spoke most about it) (Doorn: Het Zoeklicht, 2009), p. 87
 Reinier Sonneveld, Gods shocktherapie, eindeloze foltering – hoe kun je daarmee leven? (God’s Shock therapy, an endless torment – How could one live with that idea?) CV.Koers, nov. 2004, p. 40
 Drs. J.J.A.M. Voortman, In het licht van de eeuwigheid (In the Light of Eternity), Soteria, dec. 1989, p.12
 Voor een weerlegging van de alverzoening (For a refutation of the universal reconciliation.) zie www.dossiers.tk/alverzoening.htm; Willem J. Ouweneel Alverzoening Besproken en weerlegd (Universal Reconciliation, Discussed and refuted) (Vaassen: Medema, ? ) 48 p. en Andreas Symank, Worden alle mensen gered?(Will all men be saved?) Gedachten over de leer der alverzoening (Thoughts about the Doctrine of the Uuniversal Reconciliation) (’s-Gravenhave: Boekencentrum B.V., 1989), 116 pp.
 Marja Brak, De hel is taboe (Hell is a Taboo), CV.Koers, jan. 2004
 A.M. Verduijn, De eeuwigheid als motief voor zending (Eternity as a motive for entering the missionary field), Soteria 2001/4, p. 1-21
 Naar het schema (To the schedule) in CV.Koers, nov. 2004, p. 34 en verder zelf aangevuld (and further supplemented by others).
‘In Buddhist thinking, a person who is sufficiently devoted, the Nirvana can be achieved by climbing up through numerous reincarnations. The Nirvana of the Orthodox Buddhism is not something like the Annihilation. That which is a reward for a Buddhist after a difficult climb, is similar to what the punishment for sin is to an annihilationist!’ Ajith Fernando, Belangrijke vragen over de hel (Important questions on Hell) (Apeldoorn: Novapres, 1998) p. 42
 “Hell is not an everlasting torment, but the irreversible choice of whom turns himself against God’ from the report about the ‘Mystery of Salvation’.
According to the Anglican Church: geen hel en verdoemenis meer (No longer Hell and damnation), Nederlands Dagblad 12-1-1996; “De hel is een toestand van vernietiging in plaats van een plek van eeuwige foltering (“Hell is a condition of destruction instead of a place of everlasting torment) …The Church rejects the idea that all men of all religions will automatically be saved.) Anglicaanse Kerk ontkent hellevuur, (The Anglican church denies hell fire), de Telegraaf, 12-1-1996; “Hell is no place of everlasting torment. We shouldn’t see God as a Sadistic Monster.” Anglicanen zien de hel als het grote niets (Anglicans see hell as the great nothingness), Reformatorisch Dagblad, 16-1-1996
 Origen (185-254) tried to overcome the thought of a hell by believing that God will succeed to change all men through a long process of education, so that all things will flow out in an Apocatastasis Panton, which is the total restoration of God’s creation. Only in 543, Origen is condemned and hell is officially acknowledged at the Synod of Constantinople,
The idea of a purgatory only occurred in the 12th century. Gijs Dingemans, Mijn hemel, nu is er ook al geen hel meer (My Goodness/My Heavens, there is also no more Hell) HN, okt. 1999.
 ‘Majoor’ Bosshardt (Mrs. Bosshardt, Major of the Salvation Army, did not really believe in Hell and certainly not in purgatory.)
S.C. Bax, Intens bewogen met de naaste (Intensely moved with the fellowman), Reformatorisch Dagblad, 14-1-2000; Ze geloofde dat er meerdere wegen tot de zaligheid leiden. (She believed that there were more ways that lead to salvation.) Evert van Dijkhuizen, Voedsel voor de maag én het hart (Food fort he stomach and the heart), Reformatorisch Dagblad, 27-8-2004; ‘Te elfder ure worden alle mensen behouden’(‘At the eleventh hour, all men will be saved’), Nederlands Dagblad, 26-6-2007
 Ajith Fernando, Belangrijke vragen over de hel (Important questions about Hell) (Apeldoorn: Novapres, 1998) p. 20
“Ik belijd tegen alle smaad in, dat God een redder is van alle mensen. (I confess against all reproach, that God is the Savior of all men.) God toornt niet, hij heeft de mens lief. (God doesn’t anger, He loves man.)” A.F. van Toor en drs. G. Wolvers “Als u dìt niet gelooft, mist u alle heerlijkheid die in mijn hart is” (“If you don’t believe this, you will miss all the glory that is in my heart”) Rotterdamse Eben-Haëzergemeente breidt aantal activiteiten sterk uit (greatly expands the number of activities) , Reformatorisch Dagblad, 1-2-1992.