John 3:13

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

This is the sixth and the last article of the discussion on the differences between Judaism and Christianity. The sixth difference as shown in the paragraph printed in bold fonts is extracted from an article published in a Judaism website. As you read about this difference on the topic of hell, I recommend your asking the question what is the origin of the information the teaching is based on. This topic about hell is about time and space beyond human observation and experience and is critically important for it concerns your eternal destination. It is logical to lean not our trust on merely human thoughts and postulations but on the words of God who lives beyond human space and time limitation. Like Nicodemus, a leading and reputable rabbi in his time, we should all come to Jesus the Rabbi from heaven for information about eternity for He is not bound by mere human existence and is therefore authoritative and trustworthy on this important topic (key verse: John 3:13).

As a side note, there are stories about people who had out of body experience and told stories about their brief experience in heaven. But, these are subjective events and are difficult to verify. Although apostle Paul told that he had been caught up to the third heaven and saw and heard inexpressible things (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), these were only glimpses of heaven. Therefore, even apostle Paul did not come from heaven. Only Jesus did. For the discussion on the authenticity of the claims of Jesus, please refer to the article Jesus the faithful and true witness.

2 Corinthians 12:2-4

2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

Judaism teaches that Hell (for lack of a better term) is finite – its equivalent (the word Hell is not accurate here) is just a process of refinement. When the soul is ready to enter the World to come, the refinement process is finished, and one goes on to eternity. If one is entirely evil and cannot be refined, they are destroyed. In Judaism, God is just, but never vengeful. Christianity teaches that Hell is a place where nonbelievers descend forever to be punished through burning in fire eternally. In Christianity, either one merits Heaven or Hell. That’s it. And according to most sects of Christianity, that merit is based solely on whether or not one believes in Jesus. Period, end of subject. In Christianity, God heaps punishment on those who don’t believe in Jesus for eternity. Rather than the Justice of Judaism, Christianity paints God as Sadistic and vengeful.

The Unpleasant But Critically Important Subject

This subject of judgment, punishment and hell is unpleasant. But, it is unwise to avoid the subject because it concerns all mankind and the relationship with God in light of His characters: righteousness, justice, and love. To understand judgment, reward and punishment, we must see it as part of the notion of justice.

To understand the importance of justice, consider what life will be like living in a country without law or with laws but without enforcement to establish justice. This country will be in constant turmoil. The evil desires of people will be realized unchecked: thefts, robberies, rapes, deceits, murders. Nobody can live a peaceful life and no business transactions can be conducted with fidelity and trust. This country will crumble from within eventually. The necessity of justice is not an unrealistic postulation because crimes do occur everyday even in societies with law and order. We must also note that justice in human societies is dependent on the laws of the societies which are predicated on the fundamental beliefs and values of the judicial bodies in power. Therefore, justice in certain societies actually mean oppression and injustice when even basic human rights are not guaranteed. On the other hand, the interpretation of the fundamental beliefs and values can be tweeted by popular demands and political clout in countries with liberty. For instance, the Declaration of Independence of the United States wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

However, abortion is considered legal and abortion rights of the mothers are guaranteed. The human lives in development are too young to voice out their opinions, to have financial resources to pay off the abortion practitioners, or to cast political votes for the law makers. Therefore, their bodies in development are labelled simply as fetuses such that not even the most basic unalienable right, that is Life, may apply to them. In fact, these so called “fetuses" are human lives and have the potential to grow up to be good citizens and glorify their Creator as illustrated in the article The Survivors of Abortion (Psalm 139:13).

Psalm 139:13

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

Justice seems cold, and unkind. However, justice is beautiful when you look at the ugliness of sin. A news story reported recently serves a good illustration. A few people involved with a network of Latino human trafficking were arrested in the United States. The victims were young women and children lured into United States from Latino countries such as Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala with a promise of job opportunities and a better life. They were then locked into a house and were forced into prostitution making money for their oppressors by engaging in sex trade as much as 40 times a day by each victim. To avoid being noticed and arrested, sex trade operations were conducted in different places in short duration and in secret by private invitation only among Latino male population in various US cities. According to investigation, this kind of human trafficking networks are very active in the US and certainly in other countries of the world. It is not hard to understand that the world without justice will be turned into “hell" by wicked people if you think a little carefully the ordeals these victims have been going through. In fact, the Scripture teaches that a symptom of a corrupted nation is the lack of justice which is associated with rampant display of unrighteousness and dishonesty (Isaiah 59:14). No one determines to abide to the truth may survive in such corrupted community (Isaiah 59:15).

Isaiah 59:14-15

14 So justice is driven back, and righteousness stands at a distance; truth has stumbled in the streets, honesty cannot enter. 15 Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.

True Justice

True justice is based on the words of God who is perfectly righteous. Justice is not really justice if there is no judgment and the consequence of punishment. For judgment and punishment serve not only as a reprisal for the illegal conduct of the offenders educating on the seriousness and consequence of the offense, but also as a means to console and compensate the victims. Everyone should praise God for He loves righteousness and justice and the world is full of his unfailing love (Psalm 33:5). We should also take note that the world is imperfect, wicked people seem to have their ways somehow to cause harms and hardships to many including people who love God. Justice as established and maintained by humans will not be able to catch up and stop all wickedness. But God’s perfect justice will be established and unrighteousness will be completely eradicated in the new heaven and new earth (Psalm 1:6, Psalm 37:38, Revelation 21:8). God will be the King of all who are saved by His grace in both the Old and New Testament times. All who have received salvation will naturally look forward to the Kingdom of God because His justice is fulfilled and righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). There will be no more pain, mourning, death or crying which are caused by sins in addition to the sicknesses and calamities in the present world (Revelation 21:4). Everyone in the Kingdom of God will live in His glory and blessings forever (Revelation 22:5).

Psalm 33:5

The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

Psalm 1:6

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 37:38

38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future for the wicked.

Revelation 21:8

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

2 Peter 3:13

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Revelation 21:4

4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Revelation 22:5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

The Refinement of Mankind

Mankind is in a sinful state living in a fallen world. Refinement is a process to remove sins and impurities through hardships, trials and tribulations. Refinement is given out of the love of God to preserve and save people from destruction because of sins (Psalm 66:8-10). Refinement brings people to humility and to seek God for mercy, forgiveness and renewal. To illustrate, consider the failure of David. After committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah in order to cover up his sins, the spiritual condition of David was full of darkness. Yet God sent prophet Nathan to expose David’s sins and announced the punishments he would receive. David repented with a contrite heart and cried for the mercy of God (Psalm 51:2). The outcome of refinement God desires is that sinners repent of their sins and walk in His words like David did. However, not all people will turn to God and be saved but continue their wicked way (Daniel 12:10).

Psalm 66:8-10

8 Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; 9 he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.

Psalm 51:2

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

Daniel 12:10

10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

God Himself Involves in the Refinement of Mankind

In addition to adverse circumstances, God prepares ways for people to repent and come to Him. He sent prophets to warn sinners on the consequence of sins, admonish sinners to turn away from sins, invite sinners to turn to Him for forgiveness and salvation. In the old covenant, Leviticus system was established to offer animals as the symbolic means to sacrifice for the redemption of sinners. In the new covenant, the Messiah Himself came and offer Himself as the true sacrifice for all sinners (Zechariah 13:1) --- once and for all. The Holy Spirit will dwell in the new lives of believers to guide them to walk in the words of God (Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 36:25-27). Therefore, God always involve Himself closely in the refinement of mankind. This shows how much God loves and cares for mankind. Therefore, the Scriptures teach that refinement is done on living persons with the presence and power of God. No where in the Scriptures teaches that refinement is done in hell which is the place of separation from God.

Zechariah 13:1

“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

Jeremiah 31:33

33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Ezekiel 36:25-27

25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

The Permanency of Hell

There will be people who perish and permanently not see the light of life (Psalm 49:19). The permanency of new heavens and new earth along with the permanency of hell fire and worms are prophesied together as a direct contrast to each other in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 66:22, 24). The permanency of hell fire and worms mentioned by prophet Isaiah are confirmed by Jesus as He taught us about the serious consequence of sin and that we should avoid it at all cost (Mark 9:47-48). These dark and tragic conditions about the future of the wicked coincide to what prophet Daniel says about everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). Therefore, based on the revelations in the Scriptures, it is unwise to expect and look for the refinement in hell or the non-existence of hell as some religions or thinkers believe. While there is light, it is the best time to return to the Lord, love and serve Him only (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13). We turn to the Lord not merely out of fear of punishment but the Lord is good, full of mercy, grace, righteousness and justice. His words are true and beautiful: more precious than pure gold. While we live, we should all praise Him (Psalm 146:2).

Psalm 49:19

19 they will join those who have gone before them, who will never again see the light of life.

Isaiah 66:22

22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.

Isaiah 66:24

24 “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Mark 9:47-48

47And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, 48 where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Daniel 12:2

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Deuteronomy 6:13

13 Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

Psalm 146:2

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

The Execution of Justice by God

God is the God of justice and love. To save people from sin, He even sent His one and only Son to suffer the tortures, insult and painful death for us such that we may escape the condemnation by God. To say God is sadistic and vengeful is a complete misnomer when God administers justice which rightfully implies judgment and punishment for evils. Some may think that the punishment by consignment to hell is cruelty. But, I think this criticism is not valid. Firstly, we do not really know the situation in hell in great details. The Bible does reveal that hell is an unpleasant and dreadful place and it is a dwelling place for sinners separate from God (Isaiah 66:24, Mark 9:48). Secondly, the punishments in hell will vary. For instance, a story told by Jesus about an ungodly rich man who died and lived in hell but he was able to engage in conversation and even showed cares for his brothers still living (Luke 16:28). Apparently, the rich man received a body suitable for living in the conditions of hell. Thirdly, the Scriptures teach that cruelty is an attribute of wicked people and certainly not the attribute of the righteous (Proverbs 12:10). I think that God’s means of punishment are appropriate without resort to method of cruelty that violates His character of righteousness. On the other hand, the tortures and crucification that Christ suffered in the hands of wicked persons were cruelty. In addition, these were the sins we could identify in the suffering of Christ: false accusation, false witness, betrayal of innocent for personal gain, hypocrisy, false judgment for political expediency, All these sins were committed in order to create a facade of legitimacy for a treacherous murder of a righteous person. When Christ resurrected, the sins of deception, giving and receiving bribes were committed to cover up the truth. These are the sins that happen frequently throughout ages of all mankind. It is relevant to say that our sins cause the death of Christ who knew it in advance but gladly take up the penalities of sins out of His love of the world. As light and darkness are mutually exclusive to each other, so are righteousness and sin. Sinners are literally enemies of God because He is holy and righteous. Yet, God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of even His enemies (Romans 5:10) such that they might be forgiven and reconciled to Him by faith in accepting this precious gift of salvation. Therefore, it is a complete misnomer to say that God is sadistic and vengeful. In fact, God’s love is deep and wide and has been truly demonstrated by both His words and deeds: while we are sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8). However, let us not forget that God loves justice. He will take vengeance in the prerogative sense to satisfy justice according to the times He deems appropriate (Deuteronomy 32:35, 41). Justice will have to be satisfied: either by God’s Son or by ourselves. I honestly do not see why we should reject God’s grace and the blessings of a new life while continue living as adversaries to the God of holiness and righteousness.

Isaiah 66:24

“And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

Mark 9:48

where “‘the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

Luke 16:28

for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Proverbs 12:10

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

Romans 5:10

10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Deuteronomy 32:35

35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Deuteronomy 32:41

41 when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me.

Focus on the Bright Future

Why do we focus on the subject of punishment and hell instead of the love and blessings of God? Hell is only a place for the condemned sinners. But, all sinners who go to God for the gift of salvation can be justified by the grace of God who paid for the terrible consequence of sin. Sinners who accept God’s grace of salvation by faith will be justified and do not need to worry about the subject of hell. We should worry about hell for people who have not been justified by God and go on their own way until the end of their lives. As ambassadors of Christ, Christians should preach the good news of salvation to people who are not yet reconciled with God. Human beings are created in the image of God and human lives mean to live in the glory and blessings of God forever (Psalm 36:9). The very fact of separation from God, the author of life, even for a short duration is a tragic and gloomy situation let alone consignment in hell forever.

Psalm 36:9

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.


Judgment by God is the event everyone must face after life on earth (Psalm 9:7-8, Psalm 105:7, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Hebrews 9:27). The outcome of the judgment is the everlasting life for the righteous and everlasting contempt for the unrighteous (Daniel 12:2). No one is righteous before God (Psalm 143:2) and is destined to be separated from God’s glory and blessings forever. The solution to this critical problem is not religion, heritage nor effort to do well. The solution is the grace of God who Himself is our Redeemer (Isaiah 63:16). Of course we now know that God saves sinners by His Son Jesus Christ who was Word that became flesh living among us (Micah 5:2) and offered His body nailed to the cross as the redemption price of all sinners (Isaiah 53:5). We obtain salvation by faith in accepting this priceless, precious gift of redemption. There are two kinds of information about hell: information originated from men or information revealed to mankind by God. I rather listen and believe the information revealed by the One who came from heaven. His mission in the world was to save sinners from sin.

Psalm 9:7

The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. 8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.

Psalm 105:7

He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

Ecclesiastes 12:14

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Hebrews 9:27

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,

Daniel 12:2

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Psalm 143:2

2 Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you.

Isaiah 63:16

But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.

Micah 5:2

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.