Does Hell Spoil Heaven?

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
–John 3:17

How can anyone enjoy heaven if people are burning in hell? Have you ever wondered about that? Maybe you have thought, How will I ever enjoy heaven if my spouse, my friend, or my child is burning in hell forever and ever?

My wife Amy and I recently went out to our favorite restaurant. It was a delicious meal: filet mignon, asparagus, baked potato with sour cream and butter and cheese. We enjoyed every bite. But I have to confess something: not once during the meal did I ever think about all of the people in this world who are starving. When you are eating and enjoying a meal, that never crosses your mind. Other people’s misery does not extinguish your joy. You might be thinking, But when we get to heaven, we are going to have Jesus’s compassion for the lost. We will not be able to enjoy heaven if unbelievers are suffering in hell. It is true–Jesus was compassionate toward the lost when He came to earth. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Later in that chapter, He wept over the fate of Jerusalem. But the Bible says when Christ comes back again as judge, He will come “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). There will be no remorse when Christ comes again–He will deal out justice to those who deserve justice. Is Christ going to spend eternity weeping over the fate of unbelievers? No, there is going to be nothing but joy in heaven. I believe when we see God in His perfection and see things as they really are, we are going to understand why God is just in His sentence of eternal condemnation for those who have rejected Christ. J. I. Packer put it this way: “In heaven, glorifying God and thanking him for everything will always absorb us. All our love for and joy in others who are with us in heaven will spring from their doing the same, and love and pity for hell’s occupants will not enter our hearts. Their hell will not veto our heaven.”

There are some Christians today who are almost embarrassed to talk about hell. To do so seems uneducated, and it certainly seems unloving. But Jesus talked often about hell, not because He hates people, but because He loves people. He warned about hell in order to motivate people to accept the lifeline He has provided for salvation. John 3:17-18 says, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” When we fail to talk about hell, we remove perhaps the greatest incentive people have for accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Answers To Those Who Say, ‘Hell? No!’” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

J. I. Packer, “Hell’s Final Enigma,” Christianity Today, April 22, 2002,

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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