One of the women came into my Sunday School class this week after the first service and said her six year old asked her what hell was, since my husband mentioned it in his sermon. She had a nervous laugh when she said she would have to tackle that topic on the way home with her son. The doctrine of hell is tough whether you’re six, thirty-six, or sixty-three! But hell is real, and the reality of it should make a real difference in our lives.
The Reality of Hell for the Lost:
We know of the reality of hell from Scripture. 2 Thessalonians describes hell as a place for those who do not know God or obey the gospel. It mentions flaming fire, affliction, vengeance, punishment, and destruction–away from the presence of God. (We know God is omnipresent. Therefore, hell is away from the mercy and grace of God, not actually away from God Himself.) Revelation 20:10 says it goes on “day and night forever and ever.” The reality of hell is not a party with friends and a lot of beer (contrary to the recent movie title, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell”). The reality is enough to literally put the fear of God in people. Like the jailer in Acts 16, who rushed to Paul and Silas, trembling with fear we want to ask, “What must I do to be saved?”
“… but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” Romans 5:8-9
We are saved from hell and the wrath of God through the redemption of Christ’s blood!
The Reality of Hell for the Redeemed:
Why does the doctrine of hell matter for those of us who are saved?
- It shows us the seriousness of our sin. When I was six and lied to my parents, I was guilty of sin and therefore deserved the punishment of hell. As Teri Lynne wrote yesterday, sin is serious and has serious consequences.
- It helps us understand the holiness of God. God is so holy, He must separate Himself from sin, and therefore must separate Himself from sinners who never accept the gift of salvation. (For more on God’s holiness, see Kristi’s post from Monday.)
- It motivates us to proclaim the gospel. The rich man in Luke 16 was sent to hell after his death. He begged Abraham to go tell his brothers about the place of torment (v. 27). As Christians, we know there is a place of eternal torment and we must share this truth. As John Piper said, “It’s very hard to give up on the gospel if you believe there is hell, that after this life, there is an endless suffering for those who did not believe in the gospel.”
Hell is real. And although it isn’t an easy topic to tackle, it’s worth “digging in” and knowing the truth. How does thinking about this reality affect you today?