Hell is dreadfully great. Christ’s cross is greater still. Hell is a subject of unparalleled gravity and grief. Christ’s cross is greater still. Hell glorifies God’s justice. Christ’s cross is greater still. Hell magnifies the holiness of God and points to what sin deserves. Christ’s cross is greater still.
Hell is a real place of everlasting punitive justice serving the goodness of God.
1. Jesus describes hell as a real place “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
2. Hell pictures banishment from God (Matthew 7:23; 25:10–12, 30, 41).
3. The essence of hell is punitive justice (Romans 2:5–6; 2 Peter 2:13; Jude 15; Revelation 20:12–13). People are judged for injustice not ignorance. God does not punish people for not knowing the gospel—God only punishes sinners. Nobody will be in hell who does not deserve to be there. The great gravity is that we all deserve to be there.
4. In condition, hell is eternal death (Revelation 21:8).
5. In effect, hell is a place of eternal destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). By eternal death, hell destroys or ruins life. Existence in hell can hardly be called “life” (John 3:16).
6. In experience, hell is conscious (Luke 13:28).
7. In duration, hell is eternal (Matthew 25:46).
Christ’s cross is greater still.
The reason we are so offended by hell is because we are so unoffended by sin. And this exposes an impoverished view of the gospel. A clear view of hell should give us eyes to see the awful weight of our sin. Just as a cause is necessarily greater than its effect, so also the cause of punishment is greater than the punishment. Sin is worse than hell. As Jonathan Edwards said, “Men do not hate [hell] more than God hates sin.”
If we should marvel that God burns with holy hatred against sin, we should marvel yet more that He sent His Son to save us from it. Many are easily appalled at God punishing the guilty and so readily accepting of God punishing His own righteous Son on behalf of the guilty. This is illogical and impoverished. Hell should make sense to us and the cross should be outrageous—an abomination (Proverbs 17:15)!
Hell is dreadfully great. Christ’s cross is greater still. Hell should serve to enlarge our view of God and our value of Christ. Hell is the lesser reality that teaches us something of the terrible punishment that Christ endured for our sin.
1. Christ suffered crucifixion on a real cross in a real place called “Golgotha” (Matthew 27:33).
2. Christ suffered banishment from the Father on the cross, crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
3. Christ suffered the just punishment of God’s holy hatred against our sin on the cross (Romans 5:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 3:18).
4. Christ suffered the wages of our sins in His death (1 Corinthians 15:3; Romans 6:23).
5. Christ suffered destruction through crucifixion (Isaiah 52:14; 53:3-6, 10; 1 Peter 2:24).
6. Christ suffered conscious torment under the mighty wrath of God for our sins (Isaiah 53:11; Luke 22:44).
7. Christ suffered our eternal hell on the cross (Romans 3:25-26).
At this point we see with even greater clarity that Christ did what hell could never do. Christ satisfied justice. In only a few hours, Christ suffered more than the sufferings of an eternity in hell. This is the reverse of temporal sin having eternal consequences. Such is owing to the nature of the crime (like the time it takes to take a human life and the time of its just punishment). Likewise, temporal suffering swallowing up an eternal hell is owing to the nature of Christ’s punishment. Only One of infinite dignity and righteousness could satisfy the just punishment of an offense against One of infinite dignity and righteousness. Only God can vindicate God. Christ’s cross is greater than hell.
The One who preached more on hell than any other is the same and only One who can deliver us from it. It has well been said, “He sends the warning by means of the Deliverer. This is not a harsh, gloating message. It is infinitely kind and infused with hope.” May we fall down in worship, in humble adoration and praise. May we unashamedly labor to make much of this Christ in every dimension of our lives. May hell help us.
Hell exists to make much of Christ, not hell.