Hell in the New Testament is a constant reminder that there is a final accountabaility for our beliefs and behaviours in this life, whatever the particulars and temperature and durability of hell may be. It is a reminder that this life is basically a time of decision, and the decisions we make now can indeed have eternal consequences in the afterlife. And frankly this is not bad news. It is part of the Good News that in the end justice as well as mercy, righteousness as well as compassion, and holiness as well as love wins.
From the book "Gagging Jesus: Things Jesus Said We Wish He Hadn't"