If you ask most people, they’ll tell you they believe in heaven. They love the idea of a God who takes everyone away to dwell forever with Him and experience the eternal pleasures of heaven. Fewer, however, ascend to the notion of hell. “How could a loving God send someone to a place of eternal torment?” they ask.

But to understand hell, one must first be firmly rooted in the character of God Himself. God is loving. That’s an unmistakable truth you’ll never be able to refute. Yet there is both a kind and a stern aspect to that love. Take, for example, Romans 11:22, which says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” 

Now the sternness of God reminds us that He is able to hold the unrighteous for judgment, just as the kindness of God is competent to rescue those who are faithful to Him from that very same judgment.

One day I’ll die (it’s considerably nearer than my birth!) and I’ll stand before God. He will check the records of my actions and motivations, and He’ll ask me, “What on earth makes you think you have the right to come into My presence?”

At that moment, a Friend of mine will come, stretch out His hands to show where the nails have pierced Him, and say, “Father, what You say about Stuart Briscoe is absolutely true. But he’s one of Mine.” And with that, the Father will welcome me in with kind, open arms.

Would there really be a kindness of God if there were no sternness? It would be impossible. That’s why I’m certain that if there’s a heaven, there’s a hell … and every person will finish up in one of them.