Just spoke with a friend of mine who is taking a systematic theology course and hell was brought up in our discussion. It’s a dreadful doctrine, but one that we must get a biblical grip on, despite it’s horror. After all, Jesus spoke more about hell than any other biblical writer and we cannot lay aside a significant element of His teaching. Although he is not embarrassed by its reality, his profound sadness at the hardness of people’s hearts is more than apparent.

How shall believers who are committed to the truth of Jesus’s words think of hell? Consider the following:

  • Because of God’s great grace and mercy to us, every waking moment should be governed by unceasing gratitude and admiration for the God of our salvation who has saved us from the wrath to come (Eph. 2:1-10; 1 Thess. 5:9-10).
  • We must maintain a biblical view of God’s holiness and the enormity and severity of our sinfulness.

“The essential thing is that degrees of blameworthiness come not from how long you offend dignity, but from how high the dignity is that you offend” (Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad, p. 127).

“The holy God of the Bible is praised no less for establishing righteousness by retributively punishing wrongdoers than for the triumph of his grace.”(J. I. Packer, “Is Hell Out of Vogue?”Action (Sept-Oct. 1989), II.

  • Knowing that hell is our just end because of our rebellion should prompt us to live holy lives with great patience and endurance. We must maintain a forward focus and never look back (2 Pt. 3:11-13; Rev. 14:12).
  • Hell should drive us to uncompromising evangelism and passionate prayer for the lost. Not only should we be motivated by the amazing love of God for sinners (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8), but also by the terrible judgment of God (cf., Acts 17:31; 24:25).
  • God poured out his wrath twice so far and the third time will be final and thorough. 1) At the flood (Gen.6-9); At the cross of Jesus on Sin (Matt. 27:46; 2 Cor. 5:21); In the final judgement (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 15:1).
  • None of the biblical passages on judgment are without compassion and heartfelt lament for the fate of unbelievers. Believers should feel nothing less (cf., Jer. 9; Rom. 9:1-4; Mt. 23:37-38).

“Though Scripture speaks plainly and boldly of Hell’s fury, it never does so without tears” (Carson, How Long O’ Lord, p. 104).

  • Evangelism must never be reduced to meeting felt needs. Sin does not fall in the domain of the psychiatrist, social worker, financial counselor, or politician; it falls under the domain of our Savior. It is only when we come to the Savior confessing our sinfulness and desperation that we find genuine peace and eternal health for our souls.
  • If the love of God is the heartbeat of evangelism, then surely the imminent judgment of God is the reason for evangelism (Jn. 3:16).

From my “Is Hell Going Out of Business?” (title borrowed from Louis McBride).

1 Comment

  1. My father used to get irritated with people who said they thought they deserved “better.”. He would say, “All we really deserve is hell.”

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