Recently I have been challenged in my thinking regarding the doctrine of hell. Is there really a hell, a place of eternal torment? Does this make God sadistic? I have been thinking about these things, not with an unbelieving heart, but rather with a conviction that we do not express the justice of God in sending sinners to hell enough in this age. I believe this is mostly due to an effort by many in professing Christianity to remove the seemingly rough aspects of God. It is as if, preachers feel the need to polish God’s image or even make excuses for His “bad behavior.” Hell is offensive; an eternal God who will judge with anger and wrath is not pretty or something that natural man wants to consider or contemplate. It is best just to remove the “dirty” aspects of the Bible rather than to wrestle with the Truth-some might think.
The Bible teaches there is a literal hell, a burning fire which represents very well the burning justice of God. To remove hell or “air condition hell” as some have said, is to mar and attack the character of a holy, just God. To ignore or repudiate the reality of hell also numbs the call to “flee the wrath to come” and makes the demands of the gospel powerless. It is not as simple as “just keeping it positive.” Denying or softening the teaching of hell strips God of His moral character and ethic (how could a just God not send certain people to hell?)
I was encouraged by an article I read by Dr. Albert Mohler. Here is a clip from that article and a link to the full article.
A new apologetic move is now evident among some theologians and preachers who do affirm the inerrancy of the Bible and the essential truthfulness of the New Testament doctrine of hell. This new move is more subtle, to be sure. In this move the preacher simply says something like this:
“I regret to tell you that the doctrine of hell is taught in the Bible. I believe it. I believe it because it is revealed in the Bible. It is not up for renegotiation. We just have to receive it and believe it. I do believe it. I wish it could be otherwise but it is not.”
Statements like this reveal a very great deal. The authority of the Bible is clearly affirmed. The speaker affirms what the Bible reveals and rejects accommodation. So far, so good. The problem is in how the affirmation is introduced and explained. In an apologetic gesture, the doctrine is essentially lamented.
What does this say about God? What does this imply about God’s truth? Can a truth clearly revealed in the Bible be anything less than good for us? The Bible presents the knowledge of hell just as it presents the knowledge of sin and judgment: these are things we had better know. God reveals these things to us for our good and for our redemption. In this light, the knowledge of these things is grace to us. Apologizing for a doctrine is tantamount to impugning the character of God.
You can read more of what Dr. Mohler has to say by following this link.
Let us be clear and unashamed of God’s truth as we propagate and protect it.