And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
It has been dawning on me lately that there are many within the confessing church who have already forsaken the biblical teaching on hellfire, and Divine judgment. The heavy message of a God of wrath, who utterly hates all that is evil, false, and degraded doesn’t fit the new “kinder and gentler” humanistic church-growth model adopted by so many.
The popularity of recent heretical books such as Love Wins, by Rob Bell, as well as the rarity of actual teaching on the fate of the wicked even among many evangelical churches have convinced me that this defection is real.
It is almost as though the idea of Divine wrath that underlies the traditional christian teaching on perdition, is seen as a primitive throwback, and somehow beneath the more evolved modern concept of God.
The new and improved evangelicals,(some calling themselves “emergents”) are not only rejecting Hell, but they are repudiating some of the very attributes of the God of the Bible.
This is precisely the meaning of the second commandment’s prohibition against forming our own preferred image of God, rather than worshipping God as He has revealed himself to be. People don’t really reject Hell, they reject God as He has revealed himself to be; Holy, Sovereign, Majestic, Righteous, a a God of wrath against sin as well as a God of mercy.
But most of what we know that is biblical and accurate about hell and judgment comes from the teaching of Jesus himself! He is the one who warns humanity in the starkest terms of the wrath that is coming. More than Peter, Paul, James,Jude or any one else, Jesus warns us of the danger of Hell fire.
How fitting that it is the Saviour and the only Mediator who should be entrusted with this revelation from God.
After all, Peter, Paul, James, Jude, as well as you and I, all fully deserve to go to hell. Jesus alone lived a fully God honoring human life, as the Son of Man. And at the prime of his life He made the offering to God that makes it possible for us all to avoid it.
Furthermore, Jesus, is the one who will actually decide the eternal fate of every human being. Therefore it seems apt that to him also is committed the fullest revelation of the reality and liability of perdition. In scripture we behold him compassionately pleading to all who will listen not to go to hell!
To Jesus, “trivial” sins such as anger, name calling, and mental adultery are so terrible that it would be better (if possible) to maim oneself to avoid them than to indulge them all the way to hell!
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
Obviously self-mutilation is not the cure of sin, but Jesus is teaching a complete and radical resistance towards indwelling sin, particularly of thought(Eye), deed(Hand), and direction(feet).Those who escape Hell, are at war with indwelling sin!
Jesus also speaks in stark terms about the horrifying level of regret and remorse experienced by those cast out into outer darkness;
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.(Matthew 8:12)
Notice too his constant warning to the “children of the Kingdom”, in other words the ones who assume they are sure to go to heaven, as though it were some kind of birthright, rather than an indescribable privilege, a precious gift of mercy.
Once again it is Jesus who warned that the end of the age would see a great judgment, a separation of “wheat and tares” and that the Hell would be as a “furnace of fire”;
As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.(Matthew 13:40-42)
One of the most frightening images is that of Hell being the place where the “worm dieth not, and the fire is never quenched”,
And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.(Mark 8:47-48)
Notice the urgency of Jesus! His concern that we seriously resist evil, as if all or any of us are in danger of hell fire! I believe that Jesus is the faithful witness to the Truth, the only sure account of eternal reality, He warned more of Hell than he spoke of heaven!
To hear modern preachers and theologians speak of it, you would almost think Jesus didn’t believe in hell. But look at this small sampling from the gospels! This isn’t Dante’s inferno, or some angry fundamentalist, or a medieval monk, these are the words of the Son of God!
It is Jesus who tells us that Hell wasn’t really intended for people, it was made for the devil and his angels…
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:(Matthew 25:41)
But we shouldn’t assume people won’t be going there, because in this context Jesus himself is the one sending people there, no doubt sadly, but surely. Though Hell was made for the Devil and his angels, those who side with the Devil in his rebellion against God, must go there.
Jesus again is the one who specifically warned us of the ultimate disaster, that any should “die in his sin”;
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.(John 8:24)
The worst thing that could happen to anyone, is that the should die in their sin! To die unforgiven, is to face the full liability for a life of unbroken resistance to God, the Infinite,Holy,Personal King of the universe.
Keith Green the psalmist/evangelist once wrote a song called “Alter Call” which said,
Most people don’t find out till
It’s too late,
That someone has to pay the price.
You can pay it yourself (hah) or
Let someone else,
But who would be that nice,
To pay a debt that isn’t his, oh I
Know someone like that,
And he’s your best friend, he
Really is, he really loves you.
Most people don’t find out till
Their half dead, that they need another life.
You say you’ve heard everything
That’s ever been said
About The Way, The Truth, The
You say you’ve heard lot of
Preaching all before, so many times,
But did you ever open up your
Door, give Him a chance to prove Himself?
Well He’s real you know!
I hope you find out before it’s
Too late, that there’s nobody else
You know it’s breaking His heart,
The longer you wait,
Cause you’ve only been lying to
Cause no one believes a thing you
Say – NOT EVEN YOU!
You know you’re gonna find out
That He’s the way,
No matter which way you choose,
But I pray you find out by His
Love for you.
Jesus is the one who spoke more on Hell than anyone else, and who did what needed to be dome to save us from Hell, by giving his life to Gd as an offering, a substitute who bore the penalty due us, that God’s wrath might be satisfied. Jesus loves you, flee the wrath to come! Come to him for forgiveness and new life before its too late!