One of the biggest hurdles people have for believing the Christian claim is trying to reconcile that humanity is individually or corporately bad enough for God to sentence anyone to hell.
One thing is sure - when we look at the Scriptures we see a stark contrast between the way God in His utter holiness sees us (before we've surrendered to Christ), and the way we see ourselves. Here are some Scriptural accounts and verses on God's perspective of sin and judgement:
-From the very beginning, God kicked Adam and Even out of the Garden of Eden simply for eating fruit from a tree He told them not to. It isn't so much about the depravity of our sin against God, it is out of the fact that our depravity would cause us to follow our own ways, rather than obey Him.
-For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. (Psalm 36:2).
-Fools mock at making amends for sin. (Proverbs 14:9).
-Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?" (Proverbs 20:9).
-The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
-Hosea and each of the other major and minor prophets taught us that God views our sin and disobedience against Him, and our unwillingness to surrender to Him as we might view our spouse committing adultery against us. When we sin, we commit adultery against God with cosmic ramifications.
-You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Matthew 5:21-22).
-You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30).
-Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell ... no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3).
So God sees us differently, but are we really bad enough to go to hell? Here's three reasons we shouldn't take hell lightly:
1. Jesus expounded on hell
We see in the Scriptures that Jesus, "the exact image ... and sum total of the Father" (Col. 1) preached about hell more than any other Biblical person. That wasn't all that he talked about, but He did mention it many times - proclaiming it's reality and even describing it's horrors.
2. The Apostles and people today lose their lives over it
It's too easy to forget that out of Jesus key twelve mentees, eleven were martyred (killed for not being willing to deny the message they preached about Jesus as attainment into eternal salvation into the Kingdom of God and of heaven and hell). They preached this message about the exclusivity of Christ in a generation when 1 in 3 million had ever even heard of the Name of Jesus. Today, the Church remains consistent on this message, and more Christians have been martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ in the past 100 years, than in the previous 19 centuries combined, all across the world.
3. God took hell seriously
We must understand that out of indescribable love, God literally gave EVERYTHING (cannot bold that enough) to save us from hell. He split the cosmos and came to us on our terms. His love knew no bounds as He out of pure love held Himself on that cross (nails could never hold him) and poured out his blood for us. We must ask ourselves, why would God subject his only Son to come to earth and suffer a cruel death if hell was not real and there was no other way to salvation? Jesus went through hell to save us from hell because hell is real and He doesn't want you to go there.
We can absolutely trust that God's ways are higher than our ways, and that even while His judgement exists, His love is far beyond our own ability to love. The one constant is that we will NOT be able to fully comprehend everything God says and does until eternity. If we understood everything about God and the Scriptures, then God and Scriptures would only be as big as us. I am thankful that God knows more, understands deeper and loves greater than my puny understanding.
Becky Pippert said, "God's wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer of sin which is eating out the insides of the human race he loves with his whole being."
"For God did not come into the world to CONDEMN the world, but that the world through Him might be SAVED." (John 3:17, CAPS mine).
Are we really that bad? Timothy Keller summed it up, "The gospel says, 'The people who know they aren't good can find God, and the people who think they are good do not."
So what do you have to do? Humbly confess of your sins, turn from them and turn to God. Surrender your life to Jesus and His sacrifice will wash away your sins and cover you with His righteousness before a holy God. In Christ, we can have peace with God and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are saved from our sin and hell fire, as God wishes all humanity would be.