A recent article in the conservative Wall Street Journal titled "Do We Still Need to Believe in Hell?" has raised questions about the issue of eternal punishment in the afterlife.
Dr. Scott G. Bruce, professor of history at Fordham University, argues in the piece that "Hell is a cruel and oppressive concept" that has lost its power on mankind thanks to new scientific theories like Darwinism.
The professor believes humanity should rid itself of the concept of Hell.
"In some distant, better future, the foreclosure of Hell will be an important step in the maturation of human communities that can mete out justice on their own, without supernatural aid," he writes.
The article caught the attention of evangelist Franklin Graham who says Hell isn't a concept but a "reality." He says it's important not to doubt it because it's the reason Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins.
"Jesus spoke about it a great deal. The Bible describes it as a 'blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' It will not change with the maturing of human culture, or anything else we might dream up. Hell is a very real place that will be the eternal destination of souls who reject the forgiveness and salvation that a loving God offers us through His Son, Jesus Christ," Graham writes in a Facebook post.
"Heaven is also a real place, prepared for those who put their faith and trust in Christ. Now is the time when we choose our eternal destiny—the Bible tells us '…now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you die today, are you sure of your destination?" Graham continued.
Jesus talked about Hell more than any other person in the Bible. He told several parables describing Hell as a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" where the soul is destroyed in an "unquenchable fire."
The Bible says the sins of humanity are what separate us from God and send us to Hell. John 3:18 says about Jesus, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son."
In other words, we condemn ourselves by our own choices.
Sin isn't just doing bad things, but rejecting God and ignoring his commands. "All have sinned and fall short" of God's standard of holiness by choosing to disobey him and going our own way.
It's clear from Jesus' teaching that the consequence of sin is eternal death, but there is good news – Heaven is a free gift to all who believe in Jesus.
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," Jesus says in John 14:6.
"I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades (or Hell)," Jesus says in Revelation 1:18. In other words, he defeated death by his resurrection and he can rescue anyone from Hell – anyone who believes in him.
The Bible says anyone who confesses that Jesus is Lord and believes that he died and rose again will be saved from Hell and spend eternity with a God who loves them.
That's why Franklin Graham and so many other Christian leaders say we should never be dismissive or cavalier about a place where many will spend eternity – a place of torment they could easily avoid if they only knew it existed.
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