The following is an excerpt from the book I am currently working on, Experimental Christianity.
The biggest objection to hell from those concerned about the possibility it exists is “How can a loving God send people to hell and torment?” The answer as to the how in question is quite simple. God sends no one to hell. Before you rejoice at newfound freedom to act as you please without fear, I did not say no one goes to hell, I said God sends no one to hell. Hell, like heaven, is a personal choice. It is a continuation of the manner of life that began on earth.
As with the godly, so with the ungodly. Life after physical death is a continuation of life prior to that death. A note here about the term ungodly. You need not be a murderer or criminal to live an ungodly life. In fact, you may be a good person in comparison to your fellows, even your Christian fellows. Ungodly means denying or disobeying God, and contrary to moral law. Many things that are legal in the world and so acceptable in society are contrary to God’s moral law.
According to James, to live by a moral standard and be just in the sight of God, perfection is required. That is, you may not offend the moral law of God in thought, word, or deed in any point. (In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus had a good deal to say about how God evaluated what constituted sin. I leave that to your study if you are thinking of pursuing this course.)
“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” (James 2:10-11)
The soul which declines God’s invitation issued in the gospel, and continues it a life separated from God and godliness, continues on their path moving away from God. This continually widening separation from the life and fellowship of God is hell.
No one speaks of hell as a real place and offers descriptions of it more than Jesus. He calls hell outer darkness with weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. (Luke 13:28) It is a place or state in which “their worm dieth not.” (Mark 9:44) And in his story of Lazarus and the rich man speaks of the rich man’s torment in flames. (Luke 16:24) In fact, the word “tormented” is found only in the New Testament.
The Old Testament’s picture of what happens after death is the one that I said I could not imagine—total cessation of being. That is, one “perishes” or ceases to exist, and there is no place found for them. Truly hell. Such knowledge is beyond me, and beyond my scope of comprehension.