Tuesday, October 26, 2004


The idea of “hell” is a tough one for some people. Yet I believe the notion of hell is sensible in light of the character of God. The biblical teaching is this: every friend you have, every person you love, all those you work with, all persons in your neighborhood, from the elderly couple down the street to the baby born to the young couple next door, will one day enter into an eternity with God or an eternity separated from God. Thus every one of them needs to be saved. Romans 10:9 states, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." And Romans 10:13 says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." “Saved” – from what? From our sins. But why do we need to be saved from our sins? Because God is holy and cannot tolerate one micro-ounce of sin.
The Old Testament expresses this idea in Daniel 12:2 – “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Jesus talked about hell in Matthew 10:28, Matthew 16:26, and Matthew 25:41, 46 - "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." For me we have a logical argument that goes like this.
· If Jesus is God the Son, then the words of Jesus are from God and can be considered true.
· Jesus is God the Son (by His historical resurrection).
· Therefore the words of Jesus are true, to include what He says about heaven and hell.
What the apostle Paul says about hell in Romans 9:22 moves us to believe that God treats all persons with respect. Paul writes: “God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction.” The word “fit” can be viewed as being in the middle voice form which implies personal responsibility. For example, here in Monroe when a person wants to get “fitted” for hunting they go to that incredible store Cabela’s. But there is also a lifestyle, reflected by a person’s own life choices, that “fits” them for their eternal destiny. There is, so to speak, a “Ca-hell-a’s” that “outfits” a person for eternal destruction, and there is the choice of Romans 10:9-13 that “outfits” a person for heaven by clothing them in a righteousness that is not their own. God, being a respecter every person’s choice, allows people to outfit themselves either for Him or for hell. God does not send people to hell; people choose hell and receive the results of their choice.
Note that, if there were no hell, the Cross would not have been needed. “The Passion of the Christ” would then be a nonsensical act. This is because our sins would not make a separation between us and God, and there would be no need for Christ to die to forgive our sins. This is serious stuff, because the absence of hell would mean that God tolerates sin. This is why the great theologian R.C. Sproul has written, "I can't think of anything more politically incorrect to preach in 21st century America than the wrath of God, or the justice of God, or the doctrine of Hell… I think what we face in the church today is a virtual eclipse of the character of God."
On July 4, 1854, Charlie Peace, a well-known criminal in London, was hung. The Anglican Church, which had a ceremony for everything, even had a ceremony for hanging people. So when Charlie Peace was marched to the gallows, a priest read these words from the Prayer Book: "Those who die without Christ experience hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death itself can bring."When these chilling words were read, Charlie Peace stopped in his tracks, turned to the priest, and shouted in his face, "Do you believe that? Do you believe that?" The priest, taken aback by this verbal assault, stammered for a moment then said, "Well…I…suppose I do." "Well, I don't," said Charlie. "But if I did, I'd get down on my hands and knees and crawl all over Great Britain, even if it were paved with pieces of broken glass, if I could rescue one person from what you just told me."
Jesus believed in and taught about hell, and thus He crawled up that hill dragging the Cross on His back. Bill Hybels says, "Are we responsible for teaching the whole message of the Gospel of Christ? Absolutely. Anybody who doesn't, I think the Scriptures are clear, will stand accountable before God someday." You and I are accountable for teaching the whole message of Christ. Eternal destinies are at stake.(For a philosophical understanding of hell, see William Lane Craig, Middle Knowledge and Christian Exclusivism
, and Politically Incorrect Salvation.