—- Please Note that these are supplementary notes to complement the Homily preached Sunday February 17, 2013 . These are draft notes only, so please do not look for something polished – The order in which the notes appears may not correspond exactly to every word of the Homily—-


General Question & Observations:

  • According to a a 2004 Gallup Poll, 70% of Americans believe in hell. Belief in hell is highest among regular churchgoers: 92% of those who attend church weekly believe in hell, as do 74% of those who attend nearly weekly.
  • Although not central to the Christian faith, the doctrine of hell has been a significant part of historical Christian theology throughout its history.
  • Hell was a strong incentive to lead a righteous life in the early church.
  • It was the setting for Dante’s literary masterpiece The Inferno.
  • It was fear of hell and judgment that terrified Martin Luther before his spiritual enlightenment.
  • Tim lahaye: left behind series – noteworthy
  • For some, however, especially since the Enlightenment, hell has also been a major stumbling block to acceptance of Christianity.
  • Some Christian groups no longer believe in an eternal hell, or at least regard belief in it as unnecessary.
  • There seems to be two conflicting views on the doctrine of Hell, the Traditionalists and the Non Traditionalists also known as Annihilationists
  • The two understanding on: Whether mankind is mortal/immortal, body and soul; Whether Eternal existence and life is a gift gotten only from believing the gospel; Whether the wages of sin is death, not eternal existence.


  • What is Hell? Where is Hell? Is Hell Here On Earth? Is our current life Hell? and when you get to hell, is it absolutely impossible to repent?
  • It is hard to speak about Hell without causing some controversies
  • So,  saying that “It is harder to get to hell than you think “ may indeed scare the Hell out of people
  • In Some Communities, you need to marry a man to buy your way out of hell
  • Sometimes obsession with hell  make me wonder if many people believe God created and programed humanity and set it on a journey to hell – Being born again seems to be an accidental derailment from that prescribed path.
  • Question: Ezekiel 18: 23: “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
  • Is JUDGMENT  ever God’s last Word  over  LOVE?
  • Perhaps one of the fruit of this Homily is that we might Plunder Hell, and Populate Heaven?

It might be Harder to get to hell than you think

Personal Journey:

  • My obsession with using hell as a strong incentive to lead a righteous life & Leading people to Salvation
  • My use of the Roman Road: The Romans Road to salvation is a way of explaining the good news of salvation using verses from the Book of Romans. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and what are the results of salvation.

The first verse on the Romans Road to salvation isRomans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives. The second Scripture on the Romans Road to salvation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death!
The third verse on the Romans Road to salvation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”Romans 5:8 declares, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus’ death paid for the price of our sins. Jesus’ resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ death as the payment for our sins.
The fourth stop on the Romans Road to salvation isRomans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins – and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again, “for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The final aspect of the Romans Road to salvation is the results of salvation. Romans 5:1 has this wonderful message, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God.Romans 8:1 teaches us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Because of Jesus’ death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Tentative Assessment:

  • There is a logic to the Roman Road
  • All have sinned and fallen short
  • God’s remedy through Jesus Christ
  • Condition: confess with your mouth The Lord Jesus & Believe in your heart and be saved!
  • Result: You get hell insurance!

It might be Harder to get to hell than you think

Two Positions on Hell

  • There seems to be two conflicting views on the doctrine of Hell, the Traditionalists and the Non Traditionalists also known as Annihilationists
  • The two understanding on: Whether mankind is mortal/imortal, body and soul; Whether Eternal existence and life is a gift gotten only from believing the gospel; Whether the wages of sin is death, not eternal existence.

Traditional View (The Majority View) 

Those who subscribe to the traditional view use the following biblical texts in support of this doctrine:

  • Psalm  52:5 “Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: He will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living.”
  • Psalm  78:66 “He beat back his enemies; he put them to everlasting shame.”
  • Isaiah  33:14 “The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: ‘Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?'”
  • Isaiah  66:24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
  • Jeremiah  23:40 “I will bring on you everlasting disgrace—everlasting shame that will not be forgotten.”
  • Jeremiah  25:9 “…I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin.”
  • Daniel  12:2 “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
  • Matthew  8:12 “…where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
  • Matthew  10:15 “… it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment..”
  • Matthew  11:24 “… it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you”
  • Matthew  18:8 “…It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.”
  • Matthew  22:13 “…where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Same as Matt 8:12
  • Matthew  25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'”
  • Mark  9:46–48 “And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”
  • Revelation  14:11 “And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
  • Revelation  20:10 “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

Tentative Assessment:

  • These Christians point to biblical references to eternal punishment, as well as eternal elements of this punishment, such as the unquenchable fire, the everlasting shame, the “worm” that never dies, and the smoke that rises forever, as consistent with the traditional view of eternal, conscious torment of the wicked in hell although those who hold to annihilationism have written credible responses to these scriptures.
  • Opponents often argue that ceasing to exist is not eternal punishment and therefore conflicts with passages such as Matthew 25:46: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous into eternal life.”
  • This argument uses a definition of the word “punishment” that must include some form of suffering.

Non Traditional View (The Minority View)

Those who subscribe to the  non traditional view use the following biblical texts to support their understanding of this doctrine:

  • Matthew 10:28 where Christ speaks of the wicked being destroyed “both body and soul” in fiery hell
  • Ezekiel 18:4 saying that “the soul that sins shall die”.
  • John 11:11 “our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep” and
  • 1Thessalonians 4:15 “we shall not precede those who have fallen asleep”.
  • Genesis  3:19 We came from dust and to dust we will return.
  • Psalms  146:4 Our thoughts/plans perish and spirit departs upon death.
  • Ecclesiastes  9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
  • Ezekiel  18:20 The soul who sins is the one who will die.
  • Jeremiah  19:5 Jeremiah  32:35 Burning one’s offspring in the Valley of Ben Hinnom (which is where concept of Gehenna or Hell comes from[citation needed]) is NOT a commandment of God nor did it even enter His Mind[citation needed].
  • Malachi  4:1–3 God will “burn up” the wicked at the judgment, and they will be ashes under the sole of the feet of the righteous. “For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace; and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch…they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I make, saith Jehovah of hosts”
  • Matthew  10:28 Both body and soul are destroyed in hell. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  • John  3:16 People who don’t believe in Jesus shall perish and not receive eternal life.
  • John  6:51 Jesus offer… to “live forever” would make no sense apart from the fact that not all will live or exist forever.
  • 2Thessalonians  1:9 Everlasting destruction is having been destroyed and having no way to undo that.
  • Romans  6:23 For the wages of sin is death.
  • 1Corinthians  15:12–49 Only those who belong to Christ will be raised with imperishable, immortal bodies, all others perish as a man of dust.
  • 2Peter  2:6 God made Sodom and Gomorrah an example of what is coming to the wicked, specifically by reducing Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes: “and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly”
  • Revelation  20:14–15 The wicked will suffer a second death, the same fate that death itself suffers (and death will be abolished—1 Corinthians 15:26): “And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”

Tentative Assessment:

  • Non Traditionalists understand there will be suffering in the death process, but ultimately the wages of sin is death, not eternal existence.
  • Non traditionalists declare eternal existence and life is a gift gotten only from believing the gospel; (John 3:16)
  • Paul calls this gift (immortality) an integral part of the gospel message. “…who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and ‘immortality’ to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10).
  • If all souls are born immortal, then why is humanity encouraged to seek it by Paul? “To them who by patient continuance in well doing ‘seek’ for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:” (Romans 2:7)
  • And also, why would Jesus offer humanity an opportunity to “live forever”, if all live forever? …”if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:” (John 6:51).
  • The ancient Hebrews, according to some modern scholars, had no concept of the eternal soul. The afterlife was simply Sheol, the abode of the dead, a bleak end to existence akin to the Greek Hades.

Remember, Each Human is an “image Bearer”

  • PSALM 139:14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.
  • GEN 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
  • 2 PETER 1:4 – Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

It might be Harder to get to hell than you think

Concluding thoughts/questions

  • What if we understood the term “hell” to refer to the process of destruction, not as a geographical location nor a permanently existing process.
  • John Wenham: “I feel that the time has come when I must declare my mind honestly. I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel.
  • John Stott, “I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively… I believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”
  • The Church of England’s Doctrine Commission reporting in February 1995: Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and so absolutely that the only end is total non-being.
  • Cs Lewis : Eternal conscious torment is incompatible with the revealed character of God.
  • N.T. Wright:  those who reject God will become dehumanized, and no longer be in the image of God

I reject universalism.  I am sympathetic to the annihilation of the wicked. I believe Hell is real, but I doubt it is a geographical place. I hold this tentatively and not dogmatically – I reserve the right to change my mind!

So this might be the unthinkable: It might be harder to get to hell than you think

  • May be we read too much human justice in the texts!
  • Judgment is never God’s last word: Love Wins
  • “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
  • “For the Son of man is come to seek and TO SAVE THAT WHICH WAS LOST!” Luke 19:10
  • After all, Jesus said, “If I be lifted up (on the Cross), I will draw ALL unto Me.” John 12:32
  • All of God’s judgments are remedial whereas “man” has the mindset of “punishment.”
  • The ONLY god in the Bible who required human burning sacrifices was the pagan god Molech. God called this an “abomination” in Jeremiah 32:35;
  • “And they built the high places of Baal that are in the valley of Ben-hinnom (Gehenna, in the Greek) to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I had NOT commanded them nor had it entered My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”
  • If God is going to require human burning sacrifices at the end, at the judgment, a practice that God Himself has described as an “abomination,” then it would seem Yahweh is no different from the pagan god Molech!


  • Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 John 4:13-21 : 13 (NIV)
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sisteris a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

About Daniel Zopoula

Daniel is a is a provocative leader in Christian Practice. A long-distance runner in the struggle for justice, Daniel's journey is rooted in a rich African tradition of soulcraft that put a premium on Ancestor appreciation, gentle embrace of others, cultural manners and social justice. Though deeply wounded and perennially scarred by the traumatic circumstances that paved the realities of his upbringings, Daniel emerged with great dignity, decency and integrity, love, courage and humour; choosing social advocacy rather than a life of blind avarice and personal subservience. The sum realities of pervasive terror, chronic trauma and vicious stigma that was shot through the "soul-making" of young Daniel yielded his true passion to profoundly influence, lead and inspire people from all walks of life into positive change and bearing witness to love and justice. Daniel's story is a tale of a man courageous enough to be fully human, living and loving out loud: "When your life doesn't belong to you, survival is not required," he says. Daniel writes and speaks internationally on Christian Practice, Spiritual & Emotional Leadership, Inspiration, Personal & Organizational health, Family Systems, Trauma, and Emotional Wellness. Daniel is a personal growth, and spiritual health consultant; a Life Coach, Spiritual Adviser, Author, Speaker, Activist.