The question comes up quite often: Is there a literal hell? And, of course, the other half of the question: Is there a literal heaven? If one means literal in the sense of a ‘place’ called hell and heaven, it can make the question difficult. If on the other hand we are referring to a ‘person’ when we speak of hell and heaven it is another matter.
To me hell is in this text from 2 Thessalonians: “those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” These three things are hell here on earth and hell eternally: not to know God, not to obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal destruction of being away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power. That’s hell… spending an eternity away from the presence of the Lord…or with Satan…that’s hell.
Heaven is this process reversed: to know the Lord, to obey the gospel, and to be in the presence of the Lord forever. Heaven is spending an eternity with Jesus.
What makes this idea literal is the fact we are in eternal life now and continuing when we die. Since our birth we have been in eternal life of one kind or another: making choices about hell or heaven. When we die our choices are verified. Hell is ‘eternal destruction’ as it says in the above text or we live in eternal life with Jesus. It’s more the person than the place.
“This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Jesus