Early in my Christian experience, I thought I needed to serve God to earn or justify his love for me. Then I learned that because “God is love” (1 John 4:8), he cannot love me any more than he already does. As a result, I learned to serve him out of gratitude for his amazing grace. Now I realize there is a still deeper reason to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30): because he is worthy of such love.
As we noted yesterday, God cannot encourage idolatry lest he participate in it and reward that which harms us. By contrast, when we seek God, “O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works” (v. 12).
Personal authenticity is the path to flourishing, we’re told. No matter the subject, the message is the same: your body is yours to do with as you wish. So long as you’re not harming others, you’re free to do what makes you happy. Why, then, would anyone want to hear a message that insists we are sinners in need of salvation and calls us to repentance, contrition, and submission to God? Since hell appears nowhere on our list of top fears, why not live and let live? Or so our enemy would have us believe, right up to the day when it is too late to believe.
I take no special delight in writing this article. But hell is real and people are going there. So let’s look closely at what the Bible has to say about it as well as the on-going debate over whether hell is eternal conscious punishment.
What you and I “like” is utterly and absolutely irrelevant. God doesn’t set his eternal agenda based on what we “prefer”. What we might “hope” to be true simply doesn’t matter. What does or does not make us “feel comfortable” has no bearing on the truth or falsity of this issue. The fact that we have an intuitive sense for what strikes us as “fair” or “just” plays no part whatsoever in coming to a conclusion on whether or not there is an eternal hell. The fact that we may not enjoy the thought of eternal conscious punishment doesn’t make it go away! The fact that you “feel” the existence of hell is inconsistent with your concept of God doesn’t mean there isn’t one. What we “want” or “hope” or “desire” has no relevance at all in this debate. The only important question is, “Does the Bible teach it?” And if the Bible does teach it (and Revelation 14 together with numerous other texts would indicate it does), our responsibility is to believe it and fervently and faithfully proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only hope sinners have for now and eternity.
Here are 10 truths about hell that we must understand and accept.