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Does hell exist as a punishment for sins?

Some of my most oft asked questions have to do with hell and punishment for our sins in the afterlife. Many want to know if God's unconditional love is real and how this affects the consequences for our mistakes and sins. Here are some samples of the questions I receive:

If everyone just automatically goes to heaven, then why did Jesus Christ come into this world? Clearly, there must be punishment for our sins.
In the end, does God forgive all sins no matter how big or small? My brother died without receiving the last sacrament. It still bothers me not knowing if he is reconciled with God.
If there is no hell, wouldn't the Bible be wrong? And then, wouldn't God be wrong since the Bible is God's word? Please enlighten me on this because I'm living in fear of the afterlife.

I can only share what has been given me and what was taught me during my visit to the spirit world. When I asked the Savior similar questions, he asked me if I would throw any of my children into a burning hell of fire and brimstone. Then he gently reminded me how much greater the Heavenly Father's love is than mine. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Luke 11:11

I can say that I did not see “hell,” and also that I find it hard to conceive of such a place, given what I experienced. I felt greater mercy and understanding from God than I had ever imagined. To say that the fires of hell will claim anyone forever is to deny the extent of God’s love, of his understanding, and of his willingness to forgive. We doubt his judgment in the first place if we believe he would send us here, block us from heaven, and then expect us to return to him unblemished. We must not think in black and white, but more like God thinks, without limiting any possibility for love and redemption. We should try everyday to see the good in people as he sees it, Not that we should blindly trust all people, but we can temper our judgment with the recognition that a piece of God dwells in each person, which is always redeemable.

For 25 years I have thought about this judgment and forgiveness and about the worth of each soul to God. My experience was just my personal experience, not the collective experience of all, but pondering these things I have come to the conclusion that no soul, once remembering his or her true nature and previous life with God, would behave in ways God would not approve of. To do so would damage their own happiness. But in life we don’t remember. We cannot hear, see, or physically feel God. We act blindly and perhaps our true colors or our true ignorance comes out. These revelations about ourselves teach us what we need to work on to become more like God, and he kindly gives us the time and space to work on them. —The Ripple Effect, page 89

We create many of our own consequences by the choices we make. When we err or make mistakes, we suffer the consequences for those choices, this is how we learn to make right choices! Opposition is necessary for our growth, and growth is why we are here.

This statement may appear contradictory, but in an important respect I no longer view evil as evil. I view it as opposition with a purpose. People choose the wrong, not because they want to hurt themselves, but because they have not yet learned to choose the good. Through false traditions of those who teach them or through the enticements of Satan, people are led to believe that negativity will solve their problems. Negativity seems to have the instant ability to serve without effort and so is usually the first route taken.

As people choose a path not intended by God for them, they will eventually learn, but through a harder, longer process than necessary. Regardless of the process, though, whether in this life or in the next, it will yet turn them to God. “For it is written, . . . saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11). Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. God will use any means at his command to reclaim his lost children—even if it is through the things which they suffer. Hell is a tool at God’s command both here and in the hereafter and is a state of being, that individuals place themselves into. It claims its own: those who refuse to turn from negativity. But since all will eventually confess that God is God, we know he will eventually reclaim all his sheep, even the one who leaves the ninety and nine for a time.

I know the endless love of God, and I know that if there is a way to reach any soul, he will find it and use it—for eternity if need be. Every spirit has the seed of God in it, a seed that only he knows the greatness of, and we cannot judge. —The Ripple Effect, pages 86-87

God does love all his children, and when we fear him we actually draw ourselves farther away from him.

I understood how others had been instrumental in distancing me from him, though I felt no bitterness or judgment toward them. I saw how men and women in authority over me had become prey to negative energy and had taught belief in God through fear. Their aims were positive, but their deeds were negative. Because of their own fears, they were using fear to control others. They intimidated those under them to believe in God, to “fear God or go to hell.” This prevented me from really loving God. I understood again that fear is the opposite of love and is Satan's greatest tool. Since I feared God, I could not truly love him, and in not loving him, I couldn't love myself or others purely either. The law of love had been broken. —Embraced By The Light, pages 60-61

Hell is separation from God, but he loves all his children, and though we may move away from him for a time, eventually, I do not believe one of his children will be lost.

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:4-7

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