Q. I have recently read the book about a man who claims he went to hell for a brief time and it has disturbed me immensely. I find myself trying to find ways to bring hell into conversations with people so I can tell them about the perils that await them if they don’t choose Jesus as their Savior. Is there any way to truly know what happens to people who die without knowing Jesus? Could there be one moment in time between their last breath and stepping into eternity where they have one last chance to make a choice? If I am praying and praying for someone’s salvation, would God truly allow them to go to hell?
A. I haven’t read the book you’re referring to, but I don’t give much credence to books like this because of the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In the story Jesus spoke of Abraham specifically refusing to send Lazarus back to warn the rich man’s brothers of what was in store for them if they didn’t change their ways. He said the Bible was all they needed. Why would such a story be in the Bible if God was later going to allow people to do what He had refused to do then?
Hebrews 9:27 says it is given for man to die once and after that to face judgment. To me that means that our opportunity to accept the Lord’s death as payment for our sins expires with our death.
God doesn’t “allow” anyone to go to Hell. He wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:9) and He’s done everything possible to make it so, even giving His life in payment for our sins. But one thing He can’t do is force someone to go to Heaven against their will. Your prayers help immensely and will cause the Holy Spirit to exert a powerful influence on a person’s choices. But ultimately each of us has to make our own decision about Heaven or Hell.