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The Burning of God's Absence
March 30, 2017

I was mentioning to an atheist that hell (or the lake of fire) will be a place where one is separated from God for eternity. He remarked, rather quickly, “Well, then; that won’t be so bad. I am separate from him now and want nothing to do with him, so how is hell going to be any worse?”

I explained (although not everything was as I explain it here) – You  are assuming that you are entirely separate from Him now. Although you do not believe in Him, He still upholds you by His grace. You are breathing his air, eating his food. The Bible says He upholds everything in the universe. The Bible teaches us that He is present everywhere. It is due to his grace that you have anything good in you. What happens when God withdraws all of the benefits that you experience due to His goodness, even though you reject his existence?  To use a metaphor that I think I read in CS Lewis – You dine at the King’s banqueting table, while denying the King and his goodness and generosity. What will your soul feel when all of that is removed?

Please consider carefully all the good that you experience in this life. The beauty of a sunrise and the scent of apple blossoms in spring; the unconditional love of your pet dog; the harmony of a good acapella group, the unmitigated joy of a young couple in love; mountain air, the love and acceptance of your friends, a beautiful painting, the power of a good poem – the list could go on, but all of those good and beautiful things that we enjoy about this life are a blessing of God’s grace. And in hell there will be none of that, because in rejecting God, you ultimately reject everything that is good and beautiful that makes up the world that He created.

Add to that the pain that will be your experience in hell. The Bible describes it in terms that we understand the best – the pain of a constant burning. We cannot imagine anything more painful. There is something about the goodness of God in this life that allows us not to feel the burning of God’s absence. But when he withdraws Himself and His benefits from us completely, we will experience an agony that the creator of language best describes in terms of an everlasting fire.

We are taught in Divine Scriptures that the “eternal fire” was prepared for the devil and his angels. They are not humans, but spiritual entities, and therefore we are not talking about the kind of fire we know here on earth – as in the physics of fire. Fire needs fuel, and fuel is always eventually spent. Jesus talks about an eternal fire. I suspect the nature of this fire has something to do with the nature of God, because only He is eternal. Is it the reaction of the holiness of God upon sin that explains the agony of hell?  We really do not know. But we do know this. You do not want to spend an eternity without God or His benefits. I guarantee it.


On Thursday, April 27, 2017, George Roy said
It seems to me that when one is in hell they will be entirely alone except for their own thoughts and memories, in the darkness (no light nor colours) and, even though the Bible talks about fire, they will be so cold (warmth and heat being creations of God) that it will seem like burning. Not only will they be without God but without any relationship (not even demons) and, as you say, without any of God's creation.


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