Writings on Christianity

The Unfortunate Reality of Hell (Tsouloufis) Part 2

Here’s the second part of Dan Tsouloufis’ piece “The Unfortunate Reality of Hell” (you can find the first part here):

The truth is, the Bible portrays a view of God that should bring us not only awe, but awestruck terror.  He is no benevolent deity up in the sky, or a fun-loving grandpa who wants to give us candy and puppies.  His love is a holy love, and His wrath is a holy wrath.  His love is greater than we can imagine, because it’s rooted in His holiness and His character.  And His wrath is greater than we can imagine, because it’s rooted in His holiness and His character.  This is the portrait of God in the Bible.  

Truly, who wouldn’t want salvation to be universal?  It’s very appealing.  It’s not hard to imagine that if God loves everyone, and He’s all-powerful and able to accomplish His will, then certainly why “wouldn’t” God save everyone?  Why would God create some people who will end up in Heaven, while others end up in Hell, whether it’s temporal or eternal? 

While it is certainly difficult to grasp the notion of a loving God sending people to Hell, we really only have 2 options to consider: either He does or He doesn’t.  If He doesn’t send people to Hell, due to His infinite love and mercy, then it would seem to diminish His infinite holiness and justice.  If we truly believe in an infinite, personal, holy God, then God’s holiness and justice are as real and powerful as His love and mercy.  We don’t have the luxury to divide God up into neat pieces that elevate certain of His attributes over other attributes.  If we do, we are making an idol, since our view of God is something less than He truly is (hence, a false god).  Any view that elevates God’s love while minimizing or negating His righteous anger and wrath, is an incomplete view of God.  We must be careful not to fashion an image of God of our own liking, since we are finite beings who are tainted with sin in all of our thoughts, judgments, and actions.   

Still, some will argue that the notion of eternal punishment would actually diminish God’s justice.  Yet I think this argument is quite easily countered.  To be sure, some people don’t believe in Hell at all, because they deem it to be unjust.  So does that mean Hell doesn’t exist?  By no means.  In a biblical worldview, God is both perfect and perfectly holy.  In keeping with His holy character, God had to punish sin.  Yet He chose to punish sin in His only Son, who is also perfect.  He loved us so much that He poured out His holy wrath on His Son so that we would “believe” in His Son.  Thus, God demonstrated both love and justice in His redemptive work.  These 2 attributes, love and justice, go hand in hand, complementing (not negating) each other.  In fact, a biblical theology of redemption teaches that mercy does not become effective toward a sinner until justice has done its work (i.e. until justice has been satisfied).  This is the heart of the atoning work of Christ (see Rom. 3:25-26).

Lastly, since God hates sin and must punish sin, and since none of our good works can bridge the infinite gap between our sinful nature and God’s holy nature, it is hardly unjust or unfair that God would eternally condemn and punish sinners for rejecting His Son.  He doesn’t offer us any other options for our redemption.  Where in the New Testament does Christ, or Paul or Peter or John, convey the notion that for those who reject Christ, there’s another option for redemption?  They don’t, because there isn’t one.  As A.W. Tozer remarked over 50 years ago, “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly, has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.”  Thus, the idea that Hell doesn’t really exist, or if it does, that it’s only a “temporary” punishment for sins, is both unfounded and wishful thinking.       

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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