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Why Hell Is Reasonable

06/13/2012

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Why is Hell Reasonable?

Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

“Fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom. It does not read, “Love for your neighbor is the beginning of wisdom.”  Nor, “Judge not, lest ye be judged is the beginning of wisdom.”  It is with this understanding that we can reconcile this verse with those that identify the goal of the gospel, and salvation, as repentance and faith in Christ alone. 

Psalm 119:7-8  7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart, When I learn Your righteous judgments. 8 I shall keep Your statutes; Do not forsake me utterly! (NASB)

Hitler is generally regarded as an example of someone deserving of Hell. And rightfully so. The torture and murder under his command alone would be considered grounds for eternal punishment by most people. 

There are some who don’t believe in Hell. They would prefer to think that God would just annhilate Hitler instead of an infinite punishment. But sin is an offense against an infinitely holy God  as such, justice requires a punishment/ atonement of infinite value. 

Jesus said that we are judged not only by our actions, but by our thought-life as well (whoever looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery in his heart– hatred is murder at heart).

What’s more– as if one sin as a transgression of infinite value wasn’t enough– sin bubbles out of us.  Mark 7:18-23 (ESV) 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him,  19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)  20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him.  21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,  22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.  23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Although there are some who pluck certain verses out of the totality of Scripture, the Bible makes it very clear that Hell is eternal.  Rev 20:10 (ESV) and the devil who had deceived them 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.

Note that the beast and the false prophet are identified as still being in the lake of fire despite having been thrown in (before Christ’s thousand year reign) way back in Rev 19:20. 

Mtw 25:46 (ESV) And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Incineration would be a finite punishment, not eternal, and therefore would not satisfy a debt of transgression against an infinitely holy God. 

Furthermore, Jude identifies licentiousness as an evidence of apostasy (Jude 3,4).  What could be a more logical outcome of licentiousness than stripping the infinitely offensive quality of the transgression down to a finite transgression only worthy of a finite punishment?  The answer is Universalism, but that is a topic for another day. 

So where does that put us, as all having broken God’s Law?  The Bible tells us none of us is righteous (Rom 3:10). Our good deeds are like filthy rags before Him (Isaiah 64:6). Trying to be a good person can’t help us. Gal 2:21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness came through works, then Christ died needlessly (NASB). 

The picture is that each one of us is in a cell, awaiting trial. Jesus paid the fine, and the choice we find before us is if we will accept His payment through repentance and faith in His sacrifice alone, or reject His payment (whether forthright, or by adding our works to His sacrifice– He will not share His glory with another) and stand on our own goodness. Repentance (turning away from our sin) is a necessary evidence of our faith in Him– He promises to give us a new heart so we will begin to hate the things we once loved, and love the things we once hated. 

In a court of Law, a murderer can not stand trial and say, “But Your Honor, I did kill all those people, but I always drive the speed limit, and I didn’t kill anybody TODAY.”  The judge would have to be corrupt to not demand justice in light of compliance with the law on other subjects.  

In conclusion, is Hell reasonable?  Yes, and it is biblical.  And it is necessary for God to be a good Judge. 

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