There are things that many Christians say they believe in…but don’t REALLY believe in. Things like Hell.
Why would I say they don’t REALLY believe in hell? Well, for starters, they don’t live according to its natural implications. And secondly, they simply don’t teach or talk about it.
Hell is referred to as “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:13-14), “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” in Revelation 19:20 and 21:8. It is described as “eternal punishment” in Matthew 25:46. “The realm of the dead” (Psalm 9:17, Proverbs 15:24, and Acts 2:27), “everlasting destruction” and “shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9), “the blazing furnace (Matthew 13:42), where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50), “the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7), and “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Jesus Himself, in Mark 9:43, tells us that in hell, “the fire never goes out” and in Matthew 10:28, that hell is the place God “destroys both soul and body.”
Despite the fact that the Bible is very clear about the reality of hell and that many, most even, will spend eternity there, many professing Christians ignore it - finding it incredibly hard to reconcile such radical punishment with their concept of a good God. If you read that last sentence carefully, you will notice the contradiction. It is true, God is either good OR His punishment is too severe or radical. He cannot be good and still unjustly punishment people for their sin. Equally, He cannot unjustly abuse His punishment of sinners and remain good. So, which is it?
The Bible gives us the answer. Many simply do not like it and have refused to submit to and embrace the clear Biblical teaching on the topic. God is both Good and Just (or Righteous). That can only mean one thing; hell is fair. It is just.
Admittedly, this is hard to swallow. But we must. We must because the Bible teaches it. Once we have honestly embraced this critically important Christian doctrine, two things will happen. It will motivate us. Being convinced of the reality of hell motivates us to pray for the salvation of sinners and will plead with them to be reconciled to God, lest they suffer the devastating fate of eternal torment that is God's wrath. And it will also teach us. To believe…REALLY believe (and talk about / teach) this truth will open us up to more deeply understand our utter lostness. This is ultimately at the core of WHY many do not like the doctrine of hell; it implicates us. It preaches to us that we are evil, no-good, spiritually-depraved, hell-destined, blasphemous God-haters apart from Christ and the miracle of salvation. But thats not all it will teach us. We will also learn of God’s great holiness. Because He is holy, God demands holiness…period. You cannot get into His presence or remain in His sight without being holy and perfect! It’s not going to happen. Ever. Why? Because God is too holy …too other …too glorious …too pure. This means that any time we veer from His perfect will or disobey any one of His commands, it is game over. We deserve immediate destruction, on the spot.
This begs the most important question any human being can ask, “Then, how can anyone be saved from this and know God? How can anyone have eternal life?” And you probably know the answer. God, in the form of a man, came to be the holy and sinless sacrifice for the sins of all who would believe. And, if we will only repent and trust that His life counts for me and His death is a substitute for mine! This is the Gospel.
Oh, how high God and the Gospel are elevated in our hearts the more honest we are about Hell!