Question: “I don’t want to sound dense. So Jesus died for me. Then why do we still die? Then I hear that Jesus paid my penalty. But the penalty is Hell. This is all very confusing to me.”
Answer: Charles, you do not sound dense. I can understand the confusion. Thankfully, the Bible is very clear on all these issues you have mentioned. First, Jesus’ death on the cross, burial, and resurrection was a satisfactory payment for all the sins of mankind (John 3:16 1 John 2:2). His death did not do anything regarding physical death. Every person will experience physical death one day (Hebrews 9:27), save those who are in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We still die physically because of sin (Romans 5:12) and there is a need to be “born again” spiritually as Jesus said to the Israeli teacher Nicodemus in John 3:3. The person who believes on Jesus Christs’ death, burial, and resurrection for the full payment of all their sins is spiritually born again. They now eternally possess eternal life (John 6:47), have peace with God (Romans 5:1), and are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). They are forever declared righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The penalty for sin is not Hell. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). This death is not the cessation of life. It is not total annihilation, either. The Greek word means separation. So then, the penalty for sin is eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. The Bible calls this separation the “second death” because it is the second separation. (Revelation 20:11-15). The first death is when the soul is separated from the body, which you and I understand today when somebody dies. Hell is not the penalty. It is the place where those who reject Jesus Christ’s work will spend all eternity.
I pray this helps you understand. Please feel free to reach out for more questions, Charles!