What is the single greatest threat to our existence?
Inflation, disease, crime, or war?
I think the single greatest threat to anyone's existence is hell. Why? Hell is a permanent, eternal destination after physical death for those without a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hell is a place of torment and torture beyond belief. We must never forget that it’s the unimaginable price we’ll pay if we reject Jesus Christ while alive.
If hell is so horrible, why aren't people talking about it?
For most people in the secular world, Christianity is a belief of the past; therefore, the thought of landing in hell is never a consideration.
Further, people don’t understand what happens when they physically die and their soul and spirit separate from their body. Moreover, if they have no faith and reject the Bible, they have no appreciation of sin, judgment, and eternal punishment.
To make matters worse, many Christian churches completely ignore the topic of hell.
Why do Christian pastors avoid talking about hell?
A 2020 Barna Group poll found that only 51% of Americans believe in an all-powerful God, while 56% believe in Satan. In addition, the same 2020 study found that only 4 in 10 believe the Bible to be true and accurate.
Similarly, the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that 57% to 75% of Americans say they believe in heaven (depending on age), while only 55% to 59% believe in hell. A more recent 2018 Pew Research Center study found that 70% of all individuals polled believed in heaven while only 60% believed in hell. Again, the poll sampled groups that ranged from highly religious to highly secular.
With over 40% or more of Americans rejecting the reality of eternal punishment, one shouldn’t be surprised that most people don't want to hear about hell. But if many people don't believe in hell, why don’t most Christian clergy make the teaching about hell, a top priority with their congregations?
Sadly, even some clergy fall into the 40% of nonbelievers, and the result is that they bypass the subject entirely and never preach about hell's existence.
A discussion of hell is a no-go in most churches.
A case in point is Pastor Brian Jones, author of Hell is Real, who admits that he lost his faith while attending Princeton Theological Seminary. Pastor Jones revealed that some of his professors taught that the writers of the New Testament invented the concept of hell. The teachers further claimed that if hell existed, man was living in it in the present day. Because the closet atheists posing as Christian scholars undermined his faith, Pastor Jones didn't believe in hell and never preached about it after graduating from seminary. However, once he discovered that half of Jesus’ parables were about judgment and eternal punishment, he repented and focused on winning souls to Christ.
If the topic of hell is rarely taught or discussed, how many professing Christians give the reality of hell any thought? I suspect the number is small. For those who don't believe in God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible, the idea of hell is a quaint myth at best and an evil fairy tale concocted to scare people into going to church at worst.
What did Jesus Christ say about hell?
When He walked on the earth in human form, Jesus Christ taught more about hell than He did heaven. Although He often used parables to make His point, His words were clear and unequivocal. Christ mentioned hell 46 times in the Bible and the fires of hell 18 times.
“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:29-30
“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.
So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:47-50
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’” Luke 16:19-31
What if the unthinkable is true?
My question to unbelievers is, what if hell exists? What if it's as horrific as Christ described? Shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to learn more about it and learn how to stay out of it? And what about Father God? Surely, He knows that the reality of hell is being ignored, and thousands are descending into its hideous depths every day.
God’s Quiet Effort to Reach Millions with the Truth
As we know from studying the Bible, God's ways are much higher than our ways. He uses seemingly bizarre strategies to accomplish His goals. He often uses ordinary people to do extraordinary feats, such as David, the young shepherd boy, or Moses, the inarticulate runaway murderer.
Consider that He chose a young woman, Mary, from a poor family to give birth to the Savoir of mankind. The entire plan of man’s salvation that God devised was certainly not something any mortal would dream up.
I believe God may be using an unusual method to warn people about hell in the final days.
Throughout history, God has used people to deliver critically important messages to the world. Is he still using unconventional messengers today?
Over the past year, I’ve noticed a growing number of YouTube testimonies by everyday individuals who claim to have made out-of-body trips to hell. Some claim to be taken to hell while in a public place such as a church, while others claim that they have been taken on horrific trips while awake in their homes or while sleeping. The number of testimonies seems to be growing.
One could easily dismiss them as dishonest or deluded attempts to gain fleeting fame. But when I watch them, I find that many appear to be sincere testimonies of horrific experiences that God specifically induced.
Of the scores I’ve reviewed that I believe are sincere, I’ve noticed a pattern:
Motive Is Pure: Many individuals who make YouTube videos about hellish out-of-body experiences (OBEs) do not appear to be motivated by financial gain. Almost all do not have a book to sell or a for-profit speaking business to support. Most record their videos in their modest homes or cars, and most do not have professional-grade video production equipment. The few who have ministries are low-key and do not contain aggressive solicitations for donations. I do not give the same weight to YouTube productions that are professional grade with obvious revenue-generating goals.
Demeanor is Appropriate: While anyone can put on an act, I believe the earnest individuals who make truthful testimonies about OBE trips to hell display the appropriate degree of sobriety and respectful reverence to Father God. Some break down into tears when describing the horrific scenes of suffering they witnessed in hell, while others are appropriately somber. Many start their testimonies with a prayer or an acknowledgment of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and the universal sovereignty of Father God.
The message is consistent with Scripture: While the Bible does not provide detailed descriptions of any parts of hell, it does give the reader general images of the abode of the dead. Typically, witnesses describe descending into a pitch-black tunnel or pit, sensing extreme heat, smelling putrid odors, hearing deafening screams, and visiting areas where demonic creatures torture humans. Some report seeing areas that have lakes of liquid fire or smaller pits filled with molten lava. Still, others describe observing souls trapped in individual holding cells. Moreover, some report seeing creatures such as worms that are described in the Bible.
In many cases, the witnesses describe being accompanied by either Jesus Christ or an angel. In some instances, they recall being able to communicate telepathically with Christ or their angelic escort.
One recurring theme in many OBE and NDE testimonies is that their escort instructed them to tell others about what they witnessed in hell.
What is most striking about the vast majority of the YouTube testimonies is the consistency of their experiences.
An example of a credible YouTube testimony is a video posted by Ms. Teressa Wright. She recorded her OBE visit to hell in June 2021. She made a simple video of her experience while seated in an outdoor area that appears to be a typical backyard. She claims that she was taken out of her body while she was making an altar call at church and pulled down into hell to observe as a witness. The experience clearly shook her. When she begins to describe seeing large groups of people in individual craters filled with lava, she breaks down into tears.
Her testimony is notable because she confirms the configuration of a massive pit in hell that has a spiral groove carved into the side of the enormous opening. She witnessed that the spiral pathway contained lava-filled craters spaced about five feet apart. She also noted that each cavity was filled with people who were trying to escape the burning lava. She watched as each person who reached the top of the pile of people in the crater would be sucked back down into the molten lava.
Her description of a large pit with a spiral pathway carved into the side matches the extensive and riveting testimony of Bryan Melvin, who documented his NDE visit to hell in his book, A Land Unknown: Hells Dominion. Melvin has since recorded his experience in hell in a two-part YouTube video.
In a separate, unrelated testimony, a contributor to the Near-Death Experience Group on Facebook, Melissa E., reported in April of this year that she experienced an OBE in which she was taken to hell. In her own words, she observed, “Hell is a huge pit. It never ends. It just keeps going down and never stops. Within this pit are layers of chambers that you can't escape from. They each stack one on top of another. Within these chambers are people burning and screaming to break free from these chambers. They are all screaming in different languages. They are burning but their skin is not melting off. Instead of falling down into this pit, I was being lifted but I could feel the heat of the flames. It was so hot. When I got to the top of this pit, demonic beings were running towards me and through me. They were almost like spirits. Running in and out of me over and over. I was able to break free of them…."
Her description matches Bryan Melvin's description of chambers, or cubes as he described them, which are stacked six high and six deep in a huge spiral pathway that encircled the perimeter of an enormous pit.
YouTube videos are entertaining, but are OBEs real?
A skeptic reading this piece might wonder how one can leave their body, travel to hell, return to their body and resume living. However, for Christian readers, the concept is consistent with several Biblical accounts, such as the Apostle Paul’s account of an OBE in 2 Corinthians 12:2.
For a more detailed examination of OBEs and NDEs and their connection to Christianity, my blog post entitled “8 Reasons Why Christians Should Not Ignore Near-Death Experiences,” dated February 11, 2020, delves into the extensive amount of peer-reviewed literature documenting many thousands of cases of individuals who clinically died, visited heaven or hell and returned to their bodies.
Since unbelief in the supernatural realm is a major stumbling block to those with secular views and a belief that the physical realm is the only true realm in existence, what might convince a skeptic that OBEs are possible?
Modern research gives clues about how OBEs work.
Just how, exactly, does one go about separating their soul and spirit – an entity we would call our consciousness – from our physical body? Advanced research in the secular world may give us some clues.
For example, according to whistleblowers, the US government has been experimenting in the realm of remote viewing for decades. Major David Morehouse, US Army (retired), claims in his book, Psychic Warrior, that he was involved in a top-secret remote viewing program that trained him to voluntarily detach his consciousness (soul and spirit) from his body and travel to remote locations to view people, objects, and targets of military significance. Others in similar government programs have also come forward with similar accounts. Further, a search of "remote viewing" online will reveal multiple offerings of courses that purport to teach one how to remote view. While some appear to be spurious at best, some are offered by former US government employees. David Morehouse has his own training program for those interested in leaving their bodies and traveling in the supernatural realm.
Additionally, practitioners of the occult and New Age religions have been experimenting with astral projection for decades. Astral projection is essentially a self-induced OBE – similar to the process used in remote viewing but usually without guidance or supervision. Many have posted descriptions of their out-of-body experiences on websites such as the Astral Pulse. Former New Age blogger and founder of the website spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com, Steven Bancarz, who found Christ and disavowed his New Age beliefs, once promoted the practice of astral projection. Before accepting Jesus Christ as the true savior of the world, he engaged in several out-of-body trips – experiences he now regrets but acknowledges as real.
More recently, Dr. Yuval Noah Harari, an official scientific advisor to the World Economic Forum (WEF), has made many public statements in which he has claimed that "Today we have the technology to hack human beings on a massive scale…the whole idea that humans have this soul or spirit and they have free will is over."
If man can hack a human brain and override a person's free will, how about God? The concept of God temporarily taking control of a person's soul and spirit for a brief supernatural visit to hell no longer seems so farfetched to a secular nonbeliever who puts their faith solely in man-made "science."
The way forward
While we should not become obsessed with the frightening prospects of hell, we should also not refrain from discussing it when the time is right. We must proclaim to nonbelievers the priceless message of Jesus Christ's gift of salvation to all who follow him. At the same time, we should also share, with compassion, the grim reality of hell with those who reject the gospel.
Jesus Christ commanded us to spread the gospel throughout the world. We must interweave into the message of hope the consequences of rejecting the One who suffered a horrific physical death so that we might have eternal life.
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