“But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!”
(Luke 12:5 ESV)
Lately, I’ve run across several blog posts from “progressive” Christians. And, in these posts, they’ve challenged the traditional Christian doctrine of hell. They don’t believe in hell. They don’t believe that God would send anyone to hell.
The only way they can make this challenge is by dismissing certain passages of the Bible. After all, hell is a theme that runs all throughout Scripture. They have to, essentially, cherry pick the Bible that they might hold to this view.
They use their reason and emotion to justify their belief. They tell us that a righteous God, that a loving God, could not condemn people to an eternity of suffering in hell. And they defend this by pointing to passages of the Bible, like 1 John 4:8, which tells us that God is love.
We must remember, first of all, that we can’t use our reason or emotion to make a determination of truth. Both our mind and our heart have been corrupted by sin. As we read in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…”
In the same way, we read in Romans 1 that God has given man over to a debased mind. We see, in Colossians 1, that we were alienated and hostile in mind before coming to faith in Christ. And we see in 1 Corinthians 1 that the wisdom of God is foolishness to those who are perishing.
The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot trust our human mind or emotions to guide us into a true understanding of God. They will lead us only away from him. They will lead us only to sin and judgment.
For this reason, we must look to the Word of God to discover what is true. We must not make ourselves to be the judge of God and his Word. We must, instead, submit ourselves to God and his Word.
We see, from the very beginning of the Bible, that suffering and death are the consequence of sin. And the only way we’re able to escape this fate is through Jesus. Through faith in him, through faith in his promise, we’re able to receive the blessings of forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life.
If we fail to look to Jesus in faith, we remain under the consequence of our sin. And this is essentially what hell is. It’s the place where we suffer the consequence of our sin in eternity.
Does the reality of hell reflect a lack of righteousness on God’s part? Does it reflect a lack of love on his part? Absolutely not.
After all, because of our sin, we deserve God’s wrath. We in no way deserve God’s forgiveness or salvation. Those who do stand condemned are receiving only what they are due.
And not only is this true. We find also that God has done everything necessary to provide salvation to all mankind. He sent Jesus, who gave his life on the cross, providing atonement for the sin of all people (1 John 2:2). They need only to receive it by faith.
Telling people that there is no hell, telling them that God would never send anyone to hell, is the same tactic used by the snake in the Garden. “You will not surely die…” he said to Eve. He sought to convince her that, by disobedience, she would not bring upon herself the consequence threatened by God. In the same way, these modern day serpents are telling us: “You won’t go to hell.” They are denying the reality of eternal punishment to those who do not look to Jesus in faith.