My nine-year-old son recently announced he was interested in The Book of Revelation. He asked if we could read it together. “Sure,” I said, “it will be an adventure.” But before we could finish reading chapter one, a single word stopped us in our tracks. Hades.
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” -Revelation 1:18 ESV
The conversation that followed went something like this:
Michael: What’s Hades?
Me: It’s another word for hell. It’s not a good place.
Michael: Did God create hell?
It was only his second question and I seriously began to wonder if I was ready for this adventure. But Proverbs 16:4 came to mind, so I bit my lip and answered like this:
Me: God created all things so I guess He created hell, too.
Michael: But in Genesis it says everything God created was good. So if hell is not good, why did God create it?
I was sinking and fast so I did what any self-respecting incompetent parent would do. I answered a question with a question. Actually a barrage of questions.
Me: What if there is no hell? What if heaven is the only alternative and everyone ended up there no matter what? What would that tell us about God? How would it affect the way we live?
I will never forget the conversation that followed. Michael went to bed and I jotted down notes from his answers. I translated them into adult language for you here:
1. You can’t have justice without recompense. The existence of hell provides the ultimate system for perfect justice to eventually be established in the universe.
2. God’s design for the separation of unforgiven sinners reveals something essential about one of His key attributes—His holiness. See Isaiah 59:2.
3. The existence of hell shows us what we were saved from and expands our sense of gratitude for the infinitely costly price that was paid in Blood to purchase our redemption.
4. This sense of gratitude for purchased grace fuels our motivation to willingly participate in the process of personal transformation.
5. Knowing there will be real souls with resurrected bodies in hell increases our passion for reaching people with the Good News of the all-sufficient Rescue.
6. It is very reassuring to know that when the devil and hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire, (Revelation 20:10, 14) they will be completely sealed off from us forever.
7. At the final, ultimate conquest when the devil and hell are thrown into the Lake of Fire, all will see that God is, and always was, completely sovereign. He wins.
When Michael and I finished reading Revelation chapter one I breathed a sigh of relief and asked Michael one more question.
Me: Are you glad there’s a hell?
Michael: I guess I am.
Me: Me, too, son.
When we get done with Revelation I’m going to suggest we read the Gospel of Luke.