Few things will reveal our view of God like a clear view of hell. Likewise, few things will prove our perspective on the nature of man, sin, morality, ethics, justice, and the gospel. It touches even our understanding of the purpose of time and redemptive history. Hell is a significant doctrine. It serves a critical role in biblical theology. It is vital to the Christian worldview. Yet, few doctrines are more avoided from the pulpit than this one.
Hell is considered by many to be the most repugnant of all theological ideas. We should expect such from post-moderns, but not Christians. Jesus preached more on hell than heaven. Yet many Christians today seem embarrassed by it.
Over a century ago, William Booth insightfully said,
“The chief danger that confronts the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, heaven without hell.”
He has proved correct on every point, especially the notion of heaven without hell.
In one study, less than 4% of those surveyed in the US today believe that they might be worthy of hell. This is evidence of pervasive man-centeredness resulting from a departure from biblical revelation.
Many struggle with the idea of hell because they perceive it as unreasonable. And because it is viewed as unreasonable, it is deemed unjust. What an irony. The very outworking of perfect justice is judged as unjust by guilty men. Hell is perceived as unreasonable because God is not perceived as holy and our sin is not perceived as evil. We view hell as unreasonable because our view of God is impoverished, and our view of self is inflated. The gospel is diminished and Christ is made an optional miniature Savior. The good news isn’t really that good. Christ’s cross wasn’t really that bad. Evangelism isn’t really that important. Such is the fruit of egoism. The only antidote is that the church would know and make known the glory of Christ in the gospel that explains heaven and hell.
Hell is a significant doctrine for Christians. The church is responsible to know and make known the truth about hell. For these reasons, we will be hosting a series on the subject. Please be in prayer and join us.
It is a subject that will demand more self-examination than we may anticipate. It will confront assumptions and generalities. It will probe our hearts and challenge our perspectives. It will test our theological center, our view of God and our view of man. It will demand greater precision in our understanding of love and hatred and of justice and mercy. It should cause a sobering arrest of our souls and an enlarging awe of God. It should promote within us a deepening sense of the wonder and glory of grace. It should compel worship in our hearts and tears in our eyes. It should have a purifying effect on us. It is not delightful, but it is necessary. It is not comfortable, but it is sanctifying. It should humble us, stir our compassion, and ignite our hearts with celebration in the gospel.
Above all, hell exists to make much of Christ, not hell. So we will study it for the love of God and love for the lost—to make much of Christ unashamedly.
Wednesday Night Fellowship
New series, “Hell: Unforgetting God’s Justice”