Most people assume that as long as they don’t mess things up in their time here on earth, they’ll go to heaven when they die. But Scripture says the opposite. God created us for heaven, but the rebellion of the human race, in which we are all participating, has destined us for hell. Hell, not heaven, is our default destination.
Notice the breadth of who is described as going to hell in Revelation 21:8: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (ESV).
Hell Is Our Default Destination
Included in that list are the ones you’d expect: murderers, sorcerers, etc. The “really bad” guys. But it also includes a lot of people who could be found in the church, like:
- The cowardly – those who would never stand for Jesus in front of their friends.
- The faithless – those who went to church but never really trusted God enough to obey him with their relationships or their money.
- Idolaters – those who wouldn’t put God first in their lives.
- Liars – those who came to church but whose submission to God was not sincere.
Hell , the default destination, is an eternal place of torment, and all of us—no matter where we fall in that list—are deserving of its agony. That reality makes me think of the words of Charles Spurgeon: “These are such weighty things, such that when I dwell upon them, I feel far more inclined to sit down and weep than to stand up and speak to you.”
The images described in Revelation are awful, including fire and burning sulfur. There is some question as to what is metaphorical and what is literal in Revelation, but even if these things are symbols, the default destination they are pointing to is unspeakably awful.