Well, … “HELL!”

Well, … “HELL!”

Jun 23, 2017

by Pastor Darwin W. Steele




Many years ago, I had a difficult discussion with a friend that involved the reality of “hell” as a place and as a condition. His point was that hell was here and now — after all, the atrocities of the Vietnam War could not have happened if hell did not exist right here and right now. He did not believe that there was a coming eternity — but then, he was not a Christian either. Nowadays, one can easily get caught in the “annihilationism” debates or fall into the “universalism” camp (even some Evangelicals slip here). Yet hell remains a real and possible future for people who have not yet joined the Kingdom of God.

What do we know about hell? Is it just a cuss word? The Gospels certainly do not show this;

Matthew 25:30 mentions eternal darkness, verse 41 is everlasting destruction (fire), 3:12 says it is an “unquenchable fire” and 23:33 says it is a “fiery furnace.” That’s just in Matthew. Jesus certainly thought hell was real, so why do we downplay it so much? Are we, too, slipping into the universalist camp because it pains us to talk about an eternal punishment? I hope not. I have heard hell described as the logical consequence of love as dispensed in Godly justice when the Love of God has been violated by denial of Godly sovereignty. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 mentions this, “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 NASB) This speaks to justice — the word for “retribution” is ”ekdikēsis” meaning a vindication, retribution, or justice served. If Scripture is so sure that hell is real, then we need to understand and deal with it, like any other part of the Word of God. Failure to do so leaves us vulnerable to those who preach a universal salvation for all.


Hell is the “second death” as Revelation 21: 8 shows: “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (NASB) Millard J. Erickson writes, “The second death is an endless period of punishment and of separation from the presence of God, the finalization of the lost state of the individual who is spiritually dead at the time of physical death.”1 But why choose hell over the chance to spend eternity with the Lord? C.S. Lewis wrote so many years ago in The Problem with Pain: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” Then he also said this, “The doors of hell are locked from

the inside!”2 Thus, it appears that hell is a place, true. It is a condition, true. It is also a choice. The choice made in the pride of one’s mind to say, “I have no need of God.” Thus, punishment is sure and eternal for the one who denies God.

Now we know why we should care. Our whole purpose is to place that choice openly and visibly in front of those we carry the Gospel to — choose eternity with or without God. This choice will either free the individual into the servanthood of Christ or trap him forever in a condition of the absence of God. Yet hell still presents a problem in apologetics for Christians — how can a loving God send anyone to hell? Douglas Groothius says this: “Even if his (Jesus’) teachings on hell bother us (as in fact, they do bother many Christians to some extent), his words should be heeded as well grounded, if he is, indeed, who the Bible claims he was (is).3 We do know that Christ is who He said He was. Thus, we should care because God does. He does not want anyone to be separated from Him. Even in Ezekiel’s time the cry rang out strongly for those who had departed from God: “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezekiel 33:11 NASB) That cry lingers on today — ringing even more loudly as the day of His return and His judgement draws ever nearer. Do not hesitate, ring that cry loudly and winsomely from our pulpits; make sure it is heard and understood. Eternity awaits, the choice is sure: with

the Lord or in hell…What have YOU chosen?

1 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology Third Edition, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI. 2013. (pg.1074)

2 http://www.azquotes.com/author/8805-C_S_Lewis/tag/hell

3 Douglas Groothius, Christian Apologetics; A Comprehensive

Case for Biblical Faith, IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL. 2011. (pg.656-658)

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