It is interesting to observe that most Americans actually believe in the God of the Bible as well as a home in Heaven when they die.  Furthermore, they believe that most of us will spend eternity in that heavenly home.  However, when it comes to the biblical teaching on Hell or Gehenna they no longer believe what God has revealed in His book the Bible.  If pushed, they might concede Hitler and his ilk will spend eternity in Hell.

There is a line from an old Negro Spiritual, if my memory serves, that states, "not everybody talkin about heaven is goin there.”  In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), he made this truth abundantly clear when he admonished, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14 ).

Heaven and Hell are inseparably linked to the fact that God has "appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31-32).  The fact of the final Judgment and our eternity in Heaven or Hell is the key to: (1) understanding the need of salvation through obedience to the Gospel; (2) necessity of repentance (Acts 17:30); as well as the sacrifice for our sins by Christ on the Cross (John 3:16).

In contrast to contemporary emphasis, the New Testament gives more prominence to Hell or Gehenna then  to our promised home in Heaven.  Heaven is where God abides. It is His home or abode.  It is his throne.  It is also the abode of the angels (Luke 2:15).   It is where Christ ascended and is now at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55).  Paul reveals that this area is "third heaven” and is the same as "paradise” in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4.  Those that overcome will eat of the tree of life which is in paradise of God (Revelation 2:7). 

Hell on the other hand is a place of punishment.  It is a place of everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).  The apostle John points out that "the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). 

Peter sums it up in his admonition to Christians in the first century.  He writes in 1 Peter 4:15-19, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.  Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.  For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?  18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?  19Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” 

Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK (