God is a loving God, a heavenly Father Who wants all people to be saved. That is why He sent Jesus to die for us, giving all people the opportunity to have their sins forgiven. Those who obey Jesus are promised a reward in heaven after they die. That’s what we would expect from a loving God. But just as surely as God will reward those who obey Him, He will punish those who reject Him. Paul wrote: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22). God is merciful and just. Justice means doing what is right. Though only God perfectly understands justice, we can understand that bad people who reject Jesus should be punished, and that good people who accept Jesus will be rewarded.
The place of punishment is called hell. Hell is a terrible place reserved for the wicked. The Bible describes it as a “lake of fire and brimstone” where the devil will be tormented “day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). Fire is used to show us how painful the torture of hell will be. Those who go to hell will suffer eternally in a place “where the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). As bad as that sounds, the worst part about hell is that all those who go there will be separated from God, Jesus, and all saved people. On the Day of Judgment, Jesus will tell the lost to “depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). One of the worst things about hell will be the bad company!
Fortunately, we can avoid this terrible place. Hell exists because sin must be punished. If we can rid ourselves of sin, we can escape the lake of fire. We have no power on our own to wash away sins we have committed, but God sent His Son to take care of it for us. Because He died, His blood can cleanse us of our sins. If we obey Jesus and live a life of service to Him, we can be sure that we will avoid the fires of hell, and instead, inherit the kingdom of peace and happiness prepared for the faithful from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34).