I don’t understand why hell is eternal. I know God is good and just, so I am not trying to question Him, but I don’t understand why people are punished eternally for actions committed here on Earth since the actions don’t last for eternity. Also, if a person has lived a good life, but dies in a single mortal sin, why would he go to hell since he wasn’t completely evil? Would it be possible that God would still allow the person to come to Heaven after a long stay in Purgatory?
Hell is eternal because it is outside time. God created both this world and the next, but space and time are functions of this world. God Himself is outside of time and space; the same is true of Heaven and Hell.
As for the idea that one teensy little sin can contradict an entire lifetime of goodness, remember that all the good works in the world are not enough to earn a pass into Heaven. The only reason any of us enters Heaven is God’s graciousness: He forgives us, so we can enter Heaven despite our complete, utter lack of any deservedness. We aren’t being punished for sinning; we’re choosing eternal damnation over His infinite love. It’s a choice that He will allow us to make if we want it. Sadly, many of us do.
Welcome to CAF.
Actions don’t last for eternity, but the intent of the heart does. IOW, what one has freely chosen - God or not-God - brings us our just reward.
Also, if a person has lived a good life, but dies in a single mortal sin, why would he go to hell since he wasn’t completely evil? Would it be possible that God would still allow the person to come to Heaven after a long stay in Purgatory?
A truly good life is one that is intent on God and His good pleasure. A single-mortal sin is precisely that, a sin that has brought about the loss of God’s grace, thus such a sin brings about the consequences of loss of friendship with Him which can be eternal. We are free from moment-to-moment to choose whether we will accept His invitation of grace and be transformed into ever-true images of His Son and thus to live with Him forever - or we may chose the slavery of sin and not accept His merciful love and choose to live apart from Him forever.
Those in Hell have freely chosen to separate themselves from God, but He is present to them for His love for all He has created never changes. The separation the damned have chosen is from their side and thus His love them can only be experienced as eternal fire and torment. There is nothing in them that corresponds to His love. Consider Scripture’s words that “our God is a consuming fire” - in order to survive in and find joy and salvation in that fire one must himself (by correspondence to His grace) become one with the fire of Divine Love - this the damned cannot do.
Hell is for people God does not want in his kingdom of heaven… This is why the Catholic church believes in purgatory, for people who die in some sort of sin that is not severe enough to go straight to hell. I think purgatory makes a lot of sense in the case of sinning, why should people be eternally punished for sins they commit when they REALLY feel bad for it. God will deliver you to heaven when he believes you have confessed your sins that you feel bad about it and deliver you to beautiful heaven
I would say rather that it is for people who do not want to be in Heaven. Those who are in Hell have chosen to be there by rejecting God. They would find His nearness unbearable.
I have another question about Hell. Why does God make it so horrible? Why are we set on fire for eternity? I don’t understand how anything we do on this Earth can deserve this. I can’t stand just holding my hand under very hot running water for 10 seconds. I can’t imagine being on fire for eternity for a sin on this Earth.
I’m just very scared that God will send me or people I know in this life to the unimaginable unending punishment of Hell after our deaths.
Jesus said “do not be afraid”.
God does not send anyone to Hell. Grievous sinners send themselves there.
I just don’t understand why the good actions of those in Hell will go unrewarded. Couldn’t God transfer those who did at least some good here on earth out of Hell and into Heaven at least sometime according to the number of good deeds they performed. Let them move between Heaven and Hell? That way their mortal sins are punished, but they also receive a reward for what good they did.
God does not negotiate with us. He made it very clear what the expectations are. He keeps giving us chance after chance because He wants us to be with Him for ever. If we choose to reject him then it is our choice and problem. We have been told of the consequences.
I also have a question: What good is a good deed on hearth if we reject God?
God is both infinitely just and infinitely merciful. He will look at our sins and at our good deeds too.
A slightly different view of heaven and hell from Anthony Esolen who uses The Divine Comedy to make his point of view. The essay is called The Freedom-of-Heaven & The-Freedom-of-Hell. You can find it here:
Hope you enjoy it
Hell is outside Time/space… therefore it is eternal ( a concept most of us really can’t grasp - we expect/need an end sometime…)
You seem to live in fear rather than expectancy. Jesus, as man, died for you because he loves you so much. Would you do this for your best buddie? God’s love for you is awesome – beyong beyond your wildest dreams. He wants you (all of us) with him in Paradise forever.
In private revelation, the saints have been told even after your death each soul is given the choice to accept Jesus as your Saviour & do the necessary reparation in Purgatory. Unfortunately even at that last stage many many sinners still reject Jesus, spurn his love & forgiveness and go to a place of Outer Darkness & Eternal Suffering, Very sad but true.
There is no need for you to go there; all you have to do is try to be a ‘good person’ You don’t have to be RC or Christian, just follow your innate instinct about what is right & wrong. Even the most primitive savage from the beginning of Time understood that. That’s what makes us human & different from the animals.
Your journey is just beginning…Good Luck.
Sheol Hebrew, Old Testament. Appearing 65 times.
Hades Greek, New Testament. Appearing 9 times.
Hinnom Hebrew, Appearing 11 times.
All of these words are translated into the word Hell. The context of every single word used as hell in the bible, is in context to being dead. To being in the grave; in a pit.
Hell is eternal, because once you die, you die. It is appointed to men to die only once. the wages of sin is death. We are all born of original sin, meaning we are all born with a dead human spirit. If a person dies before being reborn of the Holy Spirt, If a person dies before recieveing a new human spirit, then once there physical body dies, there soul, which is already dead, is now extinguished forever. Thus, Hell[death] is eternal. Hell is described as being under Gods wrath, Gods wrath is described as an eternal fire. A eternal fire consumes and destroys. Thus, when you die under Gods wrath, you are destroyed and never to be in existence again, it is eternal. You are seperated from God eternally. You are dead
Hell equalls dead
Hell is not a pit with fire and brimstone and satan.
Rev tell us at the end even death and hell, will be thrown into the lake of fire, and that is the second death. The second death means a total complete erasure from all mind and existence. meaning even hell isn’t eternal, at least for what our human minds can comprehend.
because if hell and death are thrown into the lake of fire, and if that is the second death, then how can something that has died, and died a second time, be eternal.
No, hell is only eternal in the right context. Death, is eternal. Once you die, you can never come back. Thus, hell, which is death, is eternal, you will never walk with the LORD , however the mercy is, that we will also have no idea of the severity of the punishment, because we are destroyed. That is the mercy of God. This is in the same context as the amount of stripes a person can endure for punishment. it is 39+1 This proves God has mercy as well as limits. A limit signifies an end. And end is not eternal, it is finite.
I pray that I won’t go to hell, but just the thought of it scares me, because once a person is there, there is no way out. I just don’t understand why God won’t eventually let the people in hell out. Surely they would repent of their sins at just the sight of Hell. I am not saying that God is not good, because he is all good, but I can’t understand why hell has to be so horrible and neverending. On Earth, when people commit mortal sins, they aren’t always intendeding to reject God. Especially if a person doesn’t fully understand why an action is wrong, why does God punish him forever?
I believe that even if God could let them out, they would not leave, as their only alternative is to be with God.
Surely they would repent of their sins at just the sight of Hell. I am not saying that God is not good, because he is all good, but I can’t understand why hell has to be so horrible and neverending. On Earth, when people commit mortal sins, they aren’t always intendeding to reject God. Especially if a person doesn’t fully understand why an action is wrong, why does God punish him forever?
We have all been given a sight of hell. If not, how could you be scared of it? Those who end up in hell, chose to believe they knew better than God on how to live. Every mortal sin is direct, intentional rejection of God (usually in disobedience to one of His commands). If the sin isn’t this than its not a mortal sin.
I’m Catholic. Is that a Catholic explanation? Your religion identifier reads Bible.
Look at this thread I found. It says most people won’t be saved. Why couldn’t God just deny those who committed serious sins the beatific vision but still allow them to live immortally on Earth? They would never experience the perfect joys of Heaven, but they wouldn’t be tormented forever.
I thought of this too. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they were separated
from God, and so was everyone until Jesus came. The wages of sin is death. O.k.
but then Jesus came and saved everyone who wanted to be saved. If this can
happen on earth, why not hell? It says in the book of Peter that God desires every
man be saved. So, if God wants something, isn’t there a chance that it’s possible
for Him to get it?
But I also remember a fight in heaven. It seems angels who were already in heaven
chose to fight against God. Why? They were in heaven, the best place there is!
So maybe they wouldn’t have done that if they could constantly see others in hell,
and know that that’s where they will be if they fight God. Maybe that’s the only way
to keep people from changing their minds about being good in heaven. If people
decide to be bad in heaven, it won’t really be heaven anymore…
Do you think some people don’t want to go to heaven because they think it will be
boring? do you think some people would rather choose hell for the “excitement”?
How could they? And yet there are people here on earth who choose misery
they think it’s fun.
Hell is our word for “gehenna” which was the refuse dump outside of town where the gases fueled a fire that burned day and night, and “little critters” fed upon the garbage. The image of eternal flames and torment may be figurative, meant to indicate a place or “state of being” that is like living at the dump, for ever.
Think of the various poor souls we witness living on the streets owing to a lifestyle of drug and/or alcohol abuse or prostitution, etc. They often suffer disease, they are dirty, often isolated and angry, sometimes even a little “insane” due to the life/lives they lead. Often they are content to stay that way as long as the money or drugs or alcohol is there to feed their addictions/lifestyle. Even if they are discontented there is often the despair of not having the will or the means to change their state or the fear of being rejected. We should rejoice with anyone who finds the will to lift themselves out of that life by God’s grace. We are all former “pagans.”
C.S. Lewis once wrote that the gates of hell are locked from the inside. This is akin to the alcoholic on skid row or the addict/prostitute that prefers their state of life as long as they get the alcohol, drugs, etc. In hell, I suppose, the rebellious get their “self,” and have no desire than to experience that for ever.
But why eternity in hell? It has to do with the nature of the act (of sin) and the object of the rebellion. Think first of Jesus on the Cross—“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the Mystery of the Father’s “turning away” from the Son is revealed the effect of the first sin: Lucifer’s primeval rebellion. As Catholics and Christians we believe that the Blessed Trinity exists in an eternal state in Communion of Infinite Love (God IS Love). It has been stated that the Father freely gives this Infinite Love (Himself) to the Son eternally and infinitely, which the Son freely and infinitely accepts and returns infinitely and eternally to the Father; and, this Love is the Holy Spirit.
Now what is the effect of Lucifer’s rebellion? My thought is that it caused a temporal “veiling” of the eternal gaze of infinite Love with anger at Lucifer’s rebellion (“In a little moment of anger I hid my face from thee; but with everlasting kindness I will draw thee . . .”). Anger had never before been “experienced” by God, even though He eternally knew that it would occur at the “moment” of Lucifer’s rebellion (perhaps the first "moment’. But I digress). This temporal veil of anger over the gaze of infinite Love was infinitely valuable because of the nature of the Love being “interrupted.” All three Persons “experienced” the temporal interruption of an Infinite Love with a veil of anger, so the rebellion, although a temporal and contingent fact, carries eternal consequence (owing to the “Object” of the rebellion–which is God).
Now, here on earth it is the same. Our temporal acts of sin are acts of communion with the eternal rebel and interrupt the communion of Infinite Love which we were created to enjoy with God (" . . .he has made us partakers of the Divine nature"). As such, our temporal acts carry the same infinite value(whether acts of charity, which is communion with God’s love, or acts of sin, which is communion with Satan’s rebellion) and the same eternal consequences.
We can turn the question over: Why is Heaven eternal? Because of the Object of communion–God. By sin we enter into eternal communion with Satan’s rebellion, just as by entering into communion with Christ’s Cross through the Sacraments we are reconciled to God and restored to the communion of Infinite Love, whereby we are made partakers of the Divine nature.
That’s my view, anyway. I hope it helps.
All my best . . .
An excellent description.