The simple fact remains that if we cannot trust Jesus Christ when He speaks about hell and eternal punishment, then we cannot really trust Him when He speaks about heaven and eternal life.
Hell is not the North Star. That is, divine wrath is not our guiding light. It does not set the direction for everything in the Christian faith like, say, the glory of God in the face of Christ. Neither is hell the faith-wheel which steers the ship, nor the wind that powers us along, nor the sails that capture the Spirit’s breeze. Yet hell is not incidental to this vessel we call the church. It’s our ballast, and we throw it overboard at great peril to ourselves and to everyone drowning far out at sea.
You are a creature in the Creator’s work of art. Accept it. He is the Creator, not you. How seriously should we take those who object to hell or try to rewrite the story so that hell isn’t part of it? As seriously as we would we take Hamlet critiquing Shakespeare’s work. Hamlet has no independent existence. He can only critique Shakespeare if the author decides to write that scene.
If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth.
Significantly, of the twelve times the word gehenna [hell] is used in the New Testament, eleven times it came from the mouth of our Lord. Indeed, He spoke more about hell than about heaven.
Everything will be summed up in Christ [Eph. 1:10; Col. 1:20]. That means that all things will be brought under Christ’s direct authority. Christ has accomplished everything necessary to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. The order of nature shall be restored, and justice will prevail throughout the whole universe… Restoration does not negate the doctrine of hell but instead necessitates it.
Your shrinking from this truth about hell is not due to your sympathy with people’s pain. It is due to your lack of sympathy with their pain. God is the one who is sympathetic. He is the one who gave His only begotten Son to rescue us from this misery and to inform us insistently, dogmatically, and compassionately that we are in for an awful end if we persist in unbelief. Don’t say that you feel for people when you blunt the edge of the word of the Spirit. What have you ever done that shows that you truly feel for sinners’ eternal pain? Denying the truth of God’s Word about it certainly offers them no help whatsoever.
All the language that strikes terror into our hearts – weeping and gnashing of teeth, outer darkness, the worm, the fire, gehenna, the great gulf fixed – is all directly taken from our Lord’s teaching. It is from Jesus Christ that we learn the doctrine of eternal punishment.
Are you faithfully sharing the bad news of hell so that others will come to know the Good News of the Savior?
Doubting hell raises questions about the reality of heaven.
If I do not believe in my heart (how God saved me from hell) – believe them so that they are real in my feelings – then the blessed love of God in Christ will scarcely shine at all. The sweetness of the air of redemption will be hardly detectable. The infinite marvel of my new life will be commonplace. The wonder that to me, a child of hell, all things are given for an inheritance will not strike me speechless with trembling humility and lowly gratitude. The whole affair of salvation will seem ho-hum, and my entrance into paradise will seem as a matter of course. When the heart no longer feels the truth of hell, the gospel passes from good news to simply news. The intensity of joy is blunted and the heart-spring of love is dried up.
If I never spoke of hell, I should think I had kept back something that was profitable, and should look on myself as an accomplice of the devil.
A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us “that God is too merciful to punish souls for ever…that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly…will sooner or later be saved.” We are to embrace what is called “kinder theology,” and treat hell as a pagan fable… This question lies at the very foundation of the whole Gospel. The moral attributes of God, His justice, His holiness, His purity, are all involved in it. The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of hell… If words mean anything, there is such a place as hell. If texts are to be interpreted fairly, there are those who will be cast into it… The same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Christ to die for sinners, does also teach that God hates sin, and must from His very nature punish all who cleave to sin or refuse the salvation He has provided.
There is but one point to be settled, “What says the word of God?” Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, hell is real and true. It is a true as heaven, as true as justification by faith, as true as the fact that Christ died upon the cross. There is not a fact or doctrine which you may not lawfully doubt, if you doubt hell. Disbelieve hell, you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in the Scripture. You may as well throw your Bible aside at once. From “no hell” to “no God” is but a series of steps. Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, hell will have inhabitants.
The strongest support of the doctrine of Endless Punishment is the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer of man… The Apostles enter far less into detailed description, and are far less emphatic upon this solemn theme, than their divine Lord and Master. And well they might be. For as none but God has the right, and would dare, to sentence a soul to eternal misery, for sin; and as none but God has the right, and would dare, to execute the sentence; so none but God has the right, and should presume, to delineate the nature and consequences of the sentence.
If there were no hell, the loss of heaven would be hell.
It is a very remarkable fact that no inspired preacher of whom we have any record ever uttered such terrible words concerning the destiny of the lost as our Lord Jesus Christ.