Thursday, August 16

There is a Real Eternal Hell

I suppose that there isn't one doctrine of the Bible that hasn't come under attack, or for which some who held them have not died a martyr's death. All doctrines of God's Word are vital. One which has been under attack in recent years (again) is the teaching about an eternal condemnation in hell. Many think it's unfair of God! But may I remind my readers that when questioning a puzzling truth, we must always begin with the character of the One we're accusing, in this case God. Is he good? Is he wise? Is he not the One who is full of grace, and who's mercy is everlasting? And does not the same Bible that says these things also affirm that God is love? Is he not the One about whom Romans 5:8 speaks, "When we were yet sinners, Christ died for us?" If these things are true, then we are quite ill-equipped to be able to accuse God of anything. How can we trust that our viewpoint is flawless? Why do we imagine that if God is as great as He is, that somehow we might know better than He what is good and right?! Now, when it comes to any questionable doctrine (questionable to us, that is) our stance (if Christian) must be a submissive one, even if engaged. J.C. Ryle wrote the following in his commentary on Mark 3:30. Is hell real? The answer is more about the one to whom we listen. Hear Ryle's comments:
"We ought to notice, in the last place, that it is possible for a man's soul to be lost forever in hell. The words of our Lord are distinct and express. He speaks of one who "has never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation."

This is an dreadful truth, beyond doubt. But it is a truth, and we must not shut our eyes against it. We find it asserted over and over again in Scripture. Figures of all kinds are multiplied, and language of every sort is employed, in order to make it plain and unmistakable. In short, if there is no such thing as "eternal damnation," we may throw the Bible aside, and say that words have no meaning at all.

We have great need to keep this dreadful truth steadily in view in these latter days. Teachers have risen up, who are openly attacking the doctrine of the eternity of punishment, or laboring hard to explain it away. Men's ears are being tickled with plausible sayings about "the love of God," and the impossibility of a loving God permitting an everlasting hell. The eternity of punishment is spoken of as a mere "speculative question," about which men may believe anything they please. In the midst of all this flood of false doctrine, let us hold firmly the old truth. Let us not be ashamed to believe that there is an eternal God--an eternal heaven--and an eternal hell. Let us recollect that sin is an infinite evil. It needed an atonement of infinite value to deliver the believer from its consequences--and it entails an infinite loss on the unbeliever who rejects the remedy provided for it. Above all, let us fall back on plain scriptural statements, like that before us this day. ONE PLAIN TEXT IS WORTH A THOUSAND ABSTRUSE ARGUMENTS."
 God help us to truly hear the Bible and to abide by it.


Anonymous said...

Living forever is a gift from God. The scriptures say the wages sin pays is death. but the gift God gives is everlasting life. Damnation in this plain text is death. Nothing more. Further whether in torment or not, living forever is a privilege. And this privilege will not be extended to sinner. When adam and eve sinned, they would have eaten of the fruit to make them live forever. That tree was removed because sinners wont be given the gift of everlasting life. Therefore the teaching of living forever even though in torment is inconsistent with the truth that only the righteous will live for ever and sinners damned to death. A state of unconsciousness as ecclesiastes 9:5 says.

David R. Nelson said...

Eternal life is indeed a gift from God. We praise our Lord Jesus Christ for this! But while difficult to process, Scripture does teach that hell (or perhaps more technically correct, the "Lake of Fire" Rev. 20:14-15) is eternal. In this same passage, John describes the devil as one who was "thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10, ESV). Then a few verses later, we read that anyone who's name was not "found written in the book of life was thrown into the Lake of Fire." Eternal. Also, see Matthew 25:46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Notice that the same word "eternal" describes both "life" and "punishment." It's the same Greek word (aionios) referring to "unlimited duration of time." (Louw-Nida). See also Matthew 18:8, for the same word. I appreciate how troublesome such a thought can be. But I cannot alter what the Scriptures teach, now is it wise to do so, lest we find ourselves exalting our own opinions over God's truth. Thank you for writing.