THE DOCTRINE OF HELL

SERIES: BARRIERS

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Journey Church

 

  • Today: Doctrine of hell

 

  • Objections: Is it just? Why does it have to last forever? What’s the nature of hell (is there really fire and brimstone)? Is God really going to send people there?

 

  • “Of all the doctrines in Christianity, Hell is probably the most difficult to defend, the most burdensome to believe and the first to be abandoned.” – Peter Kreft

 

  • “I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all my friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.” – Charles Darwin

 

  • “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.” – C.S. Lewis

 

A lot of people: judgement and God’s wrath and hellfire and brimstone is all that OT stuff. I’m about Jesus – grace, mercy, and love.

 

  • The biblical teaching on hell isn’t clearly defined until Jesus talks about it.

 

  • But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. – Matthew 5:22 (736)

 

  • 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. – Matthew 5:29-30 (736)

 

  • 13% of Jesus’ teaching and 50% of his parables talk about judgement and hell.

 

  • Jesus is almost exclusively the One who talks about hell.
    • Fire that never goes out, destruction of both soul and body, darkness (place of isolation), weeping and gnashing of teeth

 

 

Four Objections

 

  1. Hell is Repulsive.

 

  • Hell is not so much a doubt as it is a repulsion – we don’t reject it because we can’t prove its existence. We reject it because it feels horrible to believe someone might go there.

 

  • It’s real for many of us because we know people who rejected Christ their whole life and then died…

 

  • But being repulsed by the doctrine of hell or any other Christian doctrine isn’t enough to prove that it’s not real or doesn’t make sense. It just means we don’t like it.

 

  • Liking or disliking something is not the same as whether it is true or not.

 

  • Just because I don’t like something – doctrine of hell – doesn’t make it untrue.

 

  1. Hell is Unjust.

 

  • Objection: The punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

 

  • Caused some Christians to come up with alternative ideas:
    • Annihalationism: God extinguishes everyone from existence
    • Universalism: Everybody gets into heaven in the end
      • Thought is that God is not just if he allows hell to exist or anyone to go there.

 

  • Problem: When you get out of the western world, many people have just the opposite idea.

 

  • For the other 90% of the world, life looks a lot different. They see the evil that people commit and wonder how God could be just if there ISN’T a hell and if there isn’t extreme, divine judgement.

 

  • They believe hell exists because God is a God of justice, not in spite of it.

 

  • Miroslav Volf, a Christian theologian who witnessed much death and destruction in his home country of Croatia, writes: It “takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis . . . of God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die. And as one watched it die, one will do well to reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.”

 

  • We are hardwired to cry out for justice against injustice. When someone commits a horrible crime and gets away with it, we see it as unjust.

 

  • When we suggest that everyone gets into heaven because God is just so good – that sounds downright awful for many people. They wonder why would you worship a God who fails to uphold justice by punishing evil?

 

  • The doctrines of hell and God’s love are not mutually exclusive.

 

  1. Hell is Overkill.

 

  • Someone sins and turns their back on God for 80 years but gets punished for eternity. That’s overkill.

 

  • First, the degree to which a person experiences punishment is based on the weight of the crime, not the time it took to do it.

 

  • Offending an authority has great weight – we fail to weigh the moral offense of sin to God

 

  • When someone turns their back on God and continues to sin defiantly, that offense has great weight to it

 

  • Second, we make the assumption that people in hell stop sinning.

 

  • EX: Man in Luke 16 (Rich man and Lazarus)
    • No record of repentance – he wants relief

 

  • The punishment is legitimately eternal because sin doesn’t stop when people die; it continues.

 

  • “Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good people who didn’t believe the right stuff for their eighty years: They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their maker and want to be at the center of the universe. universe. What is God to do? If he says it doesn’t matter to him, then God is no longer a God to be admired. For him to act in any other way in the face of such blatant defiance would be to reduce God himself.” – DA Carson

 

  • “Hell is God’s great compliment to the reality of human freedom and the dignity of human choice.” – GK Chesterton

 

  • How can God give the same punishment to the Hitlers of the world as the regular Joes?

 

  • The Bible teaches that the experience of hell (and heaven) will not be the same for every person.

 

  • 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades.[e]For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” – Matthew 11:21-24 (742)

 

  • 47 “The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. – Luke 12:47-48 (795)

 

  • 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. – Revelation 20:12 (961)

 

  1. Hell is a Torture Chamber.

 

  • Unquenchable fire, worm never dies, darkness, weeping and gnashing teeth…

 

  • Jesus is using apocryphal language which is full of metaphoric imagery

 

  • You read Lord of the Rings differently that you read the newspaper

 

  • The symbol may be pointing to something that is worse…

 

  • We wonder: Why is hell the way it is? Why did God make it that way? He didn’t make it that way, It’s naturally like that.
    • Hell was never made for people to go there.
    • 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. – Matthew 25:41 (756)

 

  • Here is what hell is: You remove the One person in the universe who is the source of all good things (James 1:17 – every good and perfect gift)

 

  • More important than what is in hell is what, or Who isn’t. The presence of God is removed, and hell is what you are left with.

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