I believe in Hell. There has been a lot of discussion lately among Christian thinkers and writers about whether or not we should believe in Hell. Some think we should not because God is such a loving God. But the New Testament seems clear to me on this point: Hell is real.
Over the years, I have not talked about Hell a lot. Even though I believe in Hell, I am not excited about it. Too many so-called Christians seem to take pleasure in the idea of judgment. But God’s heart is for salvation and redemption. “The Lord… is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish. but that all reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
The Bible uses a number of different images to describe Hell. Jesus talks about a place of fire, but He also talks about a place of outer darkness. Jesus uses some terrible images. But He clearly believed in Hell.
By Hell, I mean, that there is a place of judgment and punishment for sinners. God is not only a loving Father. God is the moral judge of the universe. If there is no moral reckoning, then God has given up His responsibility. God is the Savior. God is also the righteous Judge.
All over the world, immense greed is corrupting political and economic systems. This corruption devastates the lives of millions of people. Every evil cannot be compared to Hitler or Saddam Hussein. But many lesser sins also hurt people and corrupt the fabric of human society. Such sin cannot be ignored by a righteous God.
We cannot be trusted to assess our own sin. Most people can find examples among others of terrible sins that they believe deserve to be punished. Yet each person justifies him or herself. In our own mind we are only doing what had to be done. The suicide bomber and the husband who beats his wife stand alongside the teller of little white lies in committing sin yet believing he is doing nothing wrong.
I believe Hell is real. We like to keep a certain understanding of God that comforts us. God has designed and created everything for our benefit. For there to be justice, there must be judgment.
Love in Christ,
Pastor, Rocky River Baptist Church