The Lake of Fire and The Glory of God…eschatology 2

Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors. ( Psalm 7:9-13)

The Judeo/Christian teaching of a God of Holy wrath has by and large been rejected by the new psychologized, humanistically influenced evangelical world. Decades of weakened teaching and preaching have had a soul numbing  effect on millions of confessing christians. The very idea of a place of fiery, eternal, punishment in hell is a “turn off” to the new evangelicals.

Rob Bell is the founder of Mars Hill church in Grandville, Michigan. He is also the author of a widely acclaimed book called “Love Wins”. Bell calls into question the doctrine of final and fixed judgment in hell for the “billions” who will not be saved. The following is from the preface of Bells book,

A staggering number of people have been taught that a select few Christians will spend forever in a peaceful, joyous place called heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better…. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus’ message of love, peace, forgiveness, and joy that our world desperately needs to hear.

Note the loaded way Bell frames the issue, speaking of a “select, few christians” in order to appeal to the egalitarian impulses of his readers, as if the difference between heaven and hell is a matter of social status to those of us who believe in God’s righteous Judgment.

It is my purpose in this little essay to proclaim how the punishment of Hell glorifies the God of the Bible, and His Son, Jesus our Lord.

Modern ministers seeking to become ‘relevant’ and identify with this unbelieving generation, are obviously ashamed of the traditional teaching of the church regarding the final punishment of evil. We shouldn’t be though. Jesus certainly wasn’t ashamed to warn people of an eternal hell.

Hell and the Lake of fire were created by God for a specific purpose, to punish the Devil and his fallen angels. God only does what pleases Himself, for God’s pleasure is the highest good. Therefore Hell itself is to the glory of God. Look with me at some of the ways Hell reveals God’s holy glory.

* Hell is a revelation of the utter hatefulness of sin – There is a sense in which the whole subject of Hell and punishment shows us our own heart. We stumble over the subject because we can’t believe that sin is so evil that it merits hell.

The fall of man has the same effect on us, we reason, “What’s the big deal, Eve eating a piece of fruit, sharing it with her husband, wanting to be ‘like gods’ ?”. And yet every tear of anguish, pain, shame, rage, fear, and humiliation that was ever shed, comes as a result of the man and the woman eating the fruit.

Eating fruit is that big a deal? No, but trusting God is. Being willing to remain as a worshipper under God, rather than aspiring to be a rival God in your own image, is a huge, infinite deal with eternal consequences.

Hell and the lake of fire are a revelation of the utter hatred God has for all that is evil, false, selfish, and unbelieving. God knows what sin is, an awful evil, incredibly damaging, and of enormous consequences. Sin is the evil of evils! It is worse than hell for it caused hell, and all suffering and separation came about as a result of it.

It is to God’s glory that He hates something so hateful. Would we want to live in a universe of a God who delighted in malignant evil? Who loved lust? Selfishness and covetousness? Such a world would be unbearable.

* Hell reveals the Righteousness of God – I would hate to think of a world wherein both Hitler and his victims ended up in the same condition. We know better than that, and furthermore we know that this life isn’t long enough or of sufficient breadth to fully satisfy Justice.

For example, Hitler shot himself in the head in a bunker, after slaughtering millions of millions of his own people, and plunging the world into the most devastating war to date. He wasn’t even brought up on trial, he eluded all attempts to bring him to justice of any sort. Had he been brought to Nuremberg after the war, the worse that could have been done to this mass murderer, would be to hang him.

The doctrine of final judgment, and a fixed eternal state tells us that justice shall be eternally satisfied, there is a place where every last farthing will be demanded, all accounts will be put into order.

* Hell reveals the infinite worth of God – As we said earlier, people can’t believe that sin is really as evil as it is, therefore they can’t understand the severity of Hell.

In the same way, people don’t really believe that God is as glorious, exalted, majestic and high as He is. If they could see God they would instantly realize why there must be a hell, for they would know that to sin against such an infinitely good, Holy and beautiful being could only merit such a punishment. All sins are against God himself.

The very definition of evil, is to spurn, resist or ignore God, for He alone is the source of all that is good. You cannot spurn such a God with impunity! Hell shows us that God is so high, lifted up, so good, so beautiful, that to sin against Him is to hate goodness itself. It is the epitome of pride and impiety to refuse to worship such goodness and beauty!

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God…(Psalm 9:17)

Where else could they Go? Heaven itself would be hell to the wicked for they hate God!

Part two tomorrow

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5 Responses to The Lake of Fire and The Glory of God…eschatology 2

  1. David A. says:

    Dear Pastor Randles,
    You say, “I would hate to think of a world wherein both Hitler and his victims ended up in the same condition. We know better than that….”
    Could you explain this please?
    Millions of Jews, who were faithful to God as they understood Him, are in Hell. Hitler, on the other hand, may not be. He would not be in Hell solely based on his evil on this earth.
    Thank you!

    • billrandles says:

      Thanks David- you pose an interesting dilemma I emit. First of all what I meant is I would hate to live in an amoral universe, which would be indifferent to right and wrong and to whether or not a life was spent in pursuit of good or evil. As for the particulars you raised, In the unlikely possibility that Hot;er ended up in heaven, the universe is still a moral universe, because Jesus died for our sins to satisfy the claims of the Holy God against us. as for the millions of JEWS, perishing in spite of their “faithfulness” to their religion as they knew it, Jeremiah prohesied that His people committed two evils, “They forsook God, the fountain of living water, and they hewed out for themselves cisterns(Rabbinism) which cannot hold water. Moses predicted the Holocaust. It is also important to know that God threw quite a few Christians into prison with them, such as the Ten Booms, as a witness to the only true God. We will be surprised no doubt at how many found Messiah in places such as Dachau and Treblinka.

  2. Dave Stewart says:

    Thank God that He does not take the path of least resistance when it comes to resolving the eternal issues of sin and in dealing with the father of sin, who has propelled sin into this physical realm. I thank God our Lord Jesus the Christ that He has solved and resolved the problem He didn’t create, with His humility and grace, He poured out His life for us. If Jesus (the creator) was to simply destroy satan (the created) to prevent what has transpired related to sin and the need for hell, He would not be acting within His nature and the qualities of His Holiness. Hell is a place of justice, Righteousness and love. People will know they deserve hell if unfortunately they are judged by God to remain there. We will understand with clarity when we are out of this fleshly, glandular, sensory appetite driven body is changed. We will put on enteral bodies, the issue then relates back hell or heaven, as we will be built for eternal punishment or for heaven. We are all on a path of ownership, some people will repent, taking ownership for their sin and iniquity, opening their hearts to Jesus as their substitute, their Abiding Saviour and Lord. While others will take ownership for their sin and iniquity when it’s too late, when they are at that White Thrown of Judgement. We need to be truth seekers, the truth will set us free, Jesus is reality and truth!

  3. standingfirm says:

    Nothing but the precious blood of Jesus. Rob Bell and all of the contemplative church’s are blind. They create God as THEY conceive Him to be. Looking forward to part 2!
    MARANATHA!!!

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