The Grave Necessity for a Hideous Hell

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Hell is unashamedly a dreadful doctrine; yet, as we will see, a necessary doctrine.[1] C. S. Lewis’ said,

“There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.”[2]

We don’t desire controversy for the sake of controversy.[3] Rather, we want to be convinced biblically,[4] logically, and practically that hell is a necessary doctrine.

Tinted Glasses
As we look at the doctrine of hell, we look with American glasses on. Glasses that are tinted. These glasses can prevent us from seeing how necessary the doctrine of hell is.[5]

It is important before considering the evidence to think about our a priori assumptions. For instance, in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mocking Bird the correct verdict could not have been given in that context (i.e. Maycomb’s racist white community) because people excluded the possibility that anyone other than the black man, Tom Robinson, was guilty. Despite the strong evidence that Atticus Finch put forward Tom was convicted. Why? Because people were prejudice against the truth. The people’s a priori assumption, that Tom was guilty because he’s black, led them to not honestly look at the evidence and pronounce the correct verdict.

This sadly still happens. It happens in the court of law and it happens when people consider other forms of evidence. This is especially likely to occur when emotional issues are involved. So when people consider what the Bible teaches on certain subjects they come with tinted glasses. One theologian, for instance, admits that he “was led to question the traditional belief in everlasting conscious torment because of moral revulsion and broader theological considerations, not first of all on scriptural grounds.”[6]

John Stott believed in annihilationism. Stott, by his own admission, left the ranks of what is “traditional orthodoxy for most of the church fathers, the medieval theological and the Reformers.” Even as Stott emotionally wrestled with the doctrine of hell he said, “our emotions are a fluctuating, unreliable guide to truth and must not be exalted to the place of supreme authority in determining it. As a committed evangelical, my question must be—and is—not what does my heart tell me, but what does God’s word say?”[7]

As we look at the wrath of God we look from a certain vantage point in the cultural climate in which we live. This inevitably shades our perception of things. One book I read told of a Korean man that struggled not with the wrath of God (and even hell) but with the love and grace of God.[8] This was because he had seen horrible wickedness and clearly understood that wickedness deserves justice.

Timothy Keller tells about a woman that told him that the very idea of a judging God was offensive. Keller responded by asking why she wasn’t offended by the idea of a forgiving God. The woman was puzzled so Keller continued:

“’I respectfully urge you to consider your cultural location when you find the Christian teaching about hell offensive.’ …Westerns get upset by the Christian doctrine of hell, but they find Biblical teaching about turning the other cheek and forgiving enemies appealing. I then asked her to consider how someone from a very different culture sees Christianity. In traditional societies the teaching about ‘turning the other cheek’ makes absolutely no sense. It offends people’s deepest instincts about what is right. For them the doctrine of judgment, however, is no problem at all. That society is repulsed by aspects of Christianity that Western people enjoy, and are attracted by the aspects that secular Westerns can’t stand.”[9]

Many people are chronological or geographical snobs. That is, they have baseless biases and think their place in space and time has the unique vantage point to decipher morals, values, and truth claims of people in different times and cultures than their own. However, why should one think that non-Western cultures are inferior to our own?

The various aspects of the unpopularity of Christianity actually show that it is transcultural. Keller says,

“For the sake of argument, let’s imagine that Christianity is not the product of any one culture but is actually the transcultural truth of God. If that were the case we would expect that it would contradict and offend every human culture at some point, because human cultures are ever-changing and imperfect. If Christianity were the truth it would have to be offending and correcting your thinking at some place. Maybe this is the place, the Christian doctrine of divine judgment.”[10]

Let’s, as Keller says, for the sake of argument, listen to the transcultural truth of Scripture. Let’s not be biased. Let’s take our tinted glasses off and seek to see why hell is necessary.

A Hideous Hell is Necessary because…

First, it allows us to trust justice into God’s hands. It allows us to lay down our lives for others like Christ did, instead of seeking vengeance on our own. It prevents us from becoming vengeful vigilantes pretending we’re sovereign judges. So, for instance, when someone did Paul the Apostle “great harm,” Paul was able to say, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds” (2 Tim. 4:14ff).

Thankfully we do not have to try to right every wrong. We would fail. And only create more wrong. However, we can trust the Lord to carry out justice. God says, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” (Rom. 12:19; Deut. 32:35). And Paul gravely says, “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict [us]… They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thess. 1:5, 9 cf. Ps. 73; Is. 34 in contrast to 35; Acts 23:2-3).

Miroslav Volf, a Yale theologian who has seen violence in the Balkans, writes:

“If God were not angry at injustice and deception and did not make a final end to violence—that God would not be worthy of worship…. The only means of prohibiting all recourse to violence by ourselves is to insist that violence is legitmate only when if comes from God…. My thesis that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many… in the West…. [But] it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human non-violence [results from the belief in] God’s refusal to judge. In a sun-scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die… [with] other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.”[11]

Second, we have marred more than the mediocre; we have marred the Michelangelos of the world. We have marred superb beauty and made it unbelievably hideous. Yet, if we see something that is less hideous we look at it as a wonder. Why? Because this world is so tainted and steeped in sin and the effects of sin.

To illustrate, if I ruin a “masterpiece” that my son made with paper, glue, and crayons the ramifications will be far less than if I destroy the Mona Lisa. Well, creation was intended to be a Mona Lisa; that is, it was intended to be supremely glorious. God’s creation was intended to be good, beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing to our senses, emotions, and intellect beyond what we can imagine. And so the ramifications of the destruction of such beauty is greater. We often think of this world as the way it is not as the way it was intended to be. If we could see a glimpse of what the Great Creator had in mind for His masterpiece then we’d see that we “paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” We essentially killed a thousand Beethovens and blared white noise. We backfilled the Grand Canyon with gravel. We burned a hundred museums of art. We scorched our taste buds off our tongue. We took a wrecking ball to all the wonders of the world and razed a thousand gorgeous cities. In short, through our “war crimes,” we, as humanity, deserve death. We have brought cataclysmic chaos to the world.

Sin is not a light thing. We, as humans, were created in the image of God. We were to be like Christ, God in flesh (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). The world was meant to be supremely glorious, peaceful, and loving but instead it is disgusting and understandably repugnant to God. So, as we try to grasp the wonder of what has been marred we can begin to understand how serious the situation is.

Third, God is infinite and sin against Him is thus infinitely heightened. So, we see that we deserve infinite, i.e. eternal, punishment. To illustrate, it is one thing to steal information off of my computer but it is quite another to steal information from the President. An offense is heightened and increased in proportion to a person’s authority and position. God is heightened and glorious beyond what we can comprehend.

Jonathan Edwards says it this way,

“The least sin against an infinite God has an infinite hatefulness or deformity in it; but the highest degree of holiness in a creature has not an infinite loveliness in it: and therefore the loveliness of it is an nothing in comparison in comparison of the deformity of the least sin… We are surely under greater obligation to love a more lovely being, than a less lovely; and if a Being be infinitely lovely or worthy to be loved by us, then our obligations to love Him are infinitely great; and therefore, whatever is contrary to this love, has in it infinite iniquity, deformity, and unworthiness.”[12]

Fourth, morally we innately believe that at least some things should be punished. Hell provides just and appropriate punishment. William Lane Craig has said that “far from being incompatible with the goodness of God, the goodness of God requires the existence of hell. Hell is a manifestation of the goodness of God. …Because it shows that God is just. If God simply blinked at sin He would not be perfectly just. And yet God is absolute justice. Every sin, every wrong doing in the universe, will receive it’s just desert. And so, hell is a manifestation of the perfect justice of God. …The existence of hell, in one sense, is our only hope”[13] because it means we are dealing with a just God. A God that takes sin seriously and will eradicate it. 

The problem we typically have is quantifying what is wrong or how wrong something is. We often talk of “good people” for example. However, the Bible doesn’t really talk about “good people.”

Fifth, God is utterly holy. We may not think that hell is warranted but that is because of our view of what is good and what is bad has been so severely tainted. We take incredible wickedness lightly because, in our sinfulness, we do not even notice that it is incredibly wicked.

We may conceive of a man that has been in a deep dark cave his whole life. He comes out of the cave for the first time and sees the first picture he has ever seen. It is just a crude stick man drawn with chalk on rock. But the man proclaims that the stick man is a work of art, a masterpiece. He thinks the little chalk man is great. But why? Because he has been in a cave. He does not know what is truly out there. He has never seen Norman Rockwell’s work, for instance. It is the same with us. Morally we have been in a cave. We think we’re good. But we don’t know. We haven’t seen God!

Similarly, look at what Calvin says:

“Since nothing appears within us or around us that is not tainted with very great impurity, so long as we keep our mind within the confines of human pollution, anything which in some small degree less defiled, delights us as if it were most pure: just as an eye, to which nothing but black had been previously presented, deems an object of a whitish, or even of a brownish hue, to be perfectly white… So long as we do not look beyond the earth we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of Being he is, and how absolute the perfection of righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness, will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangly imposed upon us under the name of wisdom, will disgust by its extream folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy, will be condemned as the most miserable impotence.”[14]

Notice, also, that it is not the prisoners who sit upon the judges’ chair, nor should it be. Why? Because they are not reliable to judge justly. We ensure a person proves themself responsible, capable, and just in various ways before we entrust to them the responsibility to be judge over the court of law.

Yet, we do finally entrust justice to finite and fallible judges (and most of the time we don’t have a problem doing so). Thus, we see our innate desire for and the practical importance of justice. And it would seem that if we trust earthly judges we should realize that it makes sense for us to trust an infinite and infallible Judge.

Notice also, God justly judges and proportionately pours out His wrath. So, for instance, it will be worse for those that failed to listen to and follow Jesus than for Sodom and Gomorrah (see Matt. 10:15 cf. Matt. 11:24Mark 12:24Luke 12:4748Rev. 20:11-12). Thus it follows that there are gradations of judgment in hell.

Sixth, hell means that there is final victory over evil. The existence of hell allows for the existence of heaven. It may be a crass way of saying it, but you can’t make a good cake with bad eggs. Heaven is not heaven if you let hell in. For heaven to be heaven, infinitely good, etc., all the bad that would inevitably ruin it must be expelled (see e.g. Rev. 21:7-822:15). Just as bad eggs would make a nasty cake so bad people make a nasty heaven. We know that evil is infectious (1 Cor. 5:6) so God graciously eradicates it. It is a gracious thing for God to keep those out that refuse to love Him.[15]

Bertrand Russell said in “Why I am Not a Christian” that “there is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person that is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment. Christ certainly as depicted in the Gospels did believe in everlasting punishment.”

Yet, Bertrand Russell also desired “the good.” He said in that same essay quoted above that “we ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages. A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage” (“Why I am not a Christian”). So it would seem that he must have had some idea that there was a transcendental ethic.  

Yet, what if “knowledge, kindliness, and courage” are not enough? Are they enough? I don’t think so. Bertrand Russel wrote his essay in 1927. Russell’s optimism was clearly rebuffed with the devastating effects of World War II. Actually, Adolf Hitler himself was seeking to make a utopian society (i.e. “make the best we can of the world”).

Hitler could never have ultimately succeeded because he did not hold the transcendent good. It is transcendent, beyond us. We do not determine what it is or how to obtain it. Our bombs, politicians, and popes won’t bring the ultimate peace we all so desire.

The problem is that the world is fallen, we are fallen. This is seen in our everyday life.  The ultimate solution, as hard as it is, is to do away with the fallen. This world, and all in it, must be fixed. But how? Though Christ! Christ is God in flesh. He is the exact image of God. We were supposed to be like Him. But we’re not. God, however, can re-create us in His image. All who place their faith in Christ, His death and resurrection, will be definitively and progressively made into the image of God as we were supposed to be. However, all those that will not trust Christ and bend the knee to Him as their Lord and Savior willingly, will be made to bend the knee.

Jesus, the Messiah King that will have an eternal Kingdom of peace, will not let any foe ruin His new Eden. Instead, He will come on His white horse of wrath with a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations (Rev. 19:11, 15). Our Lord is coming back, and He will not be meek and mild. He will have His robe stained in His enemies’ blood (Rev. 19:13 cf. Rev. 14:20; Is. 62:2-3). He will eradicate all evil (Rev. 20; 21:27; 22:3) so that all things can be made new (Rev. 21).

Messiah Jesus is our hope. “Only when Satan is finally defeated shall we know life as God intended it.”[16] God’s violence to violence alone will end violence. We need the LORD to, in the words of Isaiah, sweep the world with the broom of destruction (Is. 14:23). The LORD will make those no more “who made the world a desert” (v. 17). Speaking of the judgment of Assyria, and all the “seed of the serpent” that is implied, “the LORD of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? (See v. 26-27)

Any war should have as its desire peace. War accomplishes a purpose. It refrains an evil. The war itself is not coveted. The war is not prized. But war, in many cases, is necessary.

In a castle, there can be peace and prosperity. How? Because there are walls. Walls keep the enemy out. Walls allow peace. Walls also mean that there are people not inside the walls.

In short, I believe that if there is to be a new creation/lasting shalom/heaven (“the good”), then, gravely, I believe there must also be a hell.[17]

Thus, though hell is a grave and brutal subject it is also a truth that I can appreciate. Hell does not scream, “God is not good!” Rather, it screams, “God is infinitely good!” Further, Jesus endured hell, or a form of hell, so that we, through Him, could escape it. Of course, God was not obligated to give His gracious salvation. God created the world and it was good. Yet, we wrecked it. However, He still being gracious provided a way for a renewed and exalted creation. He provided it at His own expense. And He welcomed all in. God is good. He graciously delivers us from the consequences we deserve and casts out the wicked so that all who go to Him can enjoy His glorious masterpiece of supreme unending joy.

Seventh, and related especially to the sixth point above, God’s wrath poured out in hell is not in contradiction to His love but rather they are two sides of the same coin. This point though very important will have to be much shorter then I would like (see D.A. Carson’s helpful yet short book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God). However, J. I. Packer is certainly correct when he says, “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8, 16), is one of the most tremendous utterances in the bible—and also one of the most misunderstood.”[18]

For God to be truly loving He must take sin seriously. He mustn’t act like grave injustice and sick abuse doesn’t exist. Instead, if He loves, He must destroy and hate the sin that inflicts so much pain. Truly, “The source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself. And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgment who will put all things in the world to rights in the end.”[19]

A. W. Tozer says it this way:

“Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down iniquity and save the world from irreparable moral collapse. He is said to be angry.  Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.  The holiness of God, the wrath of God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys.  He hates iniquity as a mother hates the polio that would take the life of her child.”[20]

Or consider Becky Pippert’s words:

“Think how we feel when we see someone we love ravaged by unwise actions or relationships. Do we respond with benign tolerance as we might toward strangers? Far from it… Anger isn’t the opposite of love. Hate is, and the final form of hate is indifference…. God’s wrath is not a cranky explosion, but his settled opposition to the cancer… which is eating out the insides of the human race he loves with his whole being.”[21]

Eighth, we all deserve hell. This is implicit in the fifth point above but I want to make it more explicit. Hell is not unjust. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). It is grace that all are not damned. Actually, as Jonathan Edwards has said, “There is nothing that keeps wicked men, at any one moment, out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.”[22] We all deserve hell.

Further, God shows “common grace” to all people. God sends His rain, and the blessing that comes with it, on the just and the unjust alike (Matt. 5:45). God also restrains wickedness. Things are not as bad as they would be if God did not restrain wickedness.[23]

We all have the gene, germ, or seed of sin within in us. We would all be helplessly wicked apart from God’s restraining grace. Therefore if one, such as Gandhi, appears good it is only by God’s gracious restraining hand that he even appears good. Gandhi, nor anyone else, is innately righteous. Further, even our good deeds are tainted. Also notice that Isaiah, a foremost prophet of God, said, “woe is me!” So we see even the most “righteous” saint deserves hell. We must understand that grace and mercy by definition are underserved and thus should be unexpected.

The paragraph below captures, I believe, what should be our disposition as we think about hell:

“When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell.  And it appears to me that were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth in all the majesty of his power and in all the glory of his sovereignty, I should appear sunk down in my sins below hell itself, far beyond the sight of everything but the eye of sovereign grace that can pierce even down to such a depth.  And yet it seems to me that my conviction of sin is exceeding small and faint; it is enough to amaze me that I have no more sense of my sin.”[24]

Ninth, people themselves choose hell. Matthew 23:37 recounts Jesus’ words: Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!

Keller says “Hell… is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever.”[25] He goes on to say, “hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity. We see this process ‘writ small’ in addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, and pornography.”[26] It is a vicious cycle down and down and down; the enslaving law of diminishing returns.

When people are given up to the sins they choose they become increasingly enslaved and debased (e.g. the mounting problems that we see in the beginning chapters of Genesis after the fall and cf. Rom. 1). C.S. Lewis said, “It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE HELL unless it is nipped in the bud.”[27]

As J. I. Packer writes, “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen… [H]ell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice. All receive what they actually chose, either to be with God forever, worshipping him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”[28] 

All people are without excuse. All people, as we said above, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Further, apart from God’s sovereign grace none would go to the Lord in repentance. We would all chose to continue in rebellion and sin without God breathing life into us through the Spirit and regenerating us and giving us a new heart that loves Him. As J.I. Packer said, “None are shut out from mercy save those who shut themselves out through impenitence and unbelief.”[29]

Tenth, hell shows us how much Jesus loves us and how much He did for us. Timothy Keller points out that unless we come to grips with the “terrible” doctrine of hell, we will never be able to truly grasp the height and depth of what Jesus did for us on the cross.[30] Jesus was forsaken by God the Father when He bore our punishment on the cross (Matt. 27:46). In some mysterious way, when Jesus was forsaken by His Father He experienced hell.

To the degree that we depreciate and devalue hell we also depreciate and devalue Jesus Christ and His substitution for redeemed sinners. If we lessen God’s wrath outpoured on sinners in hell there is a corresponding effect upon the worth of the Christ’s work on the cross. However, Christ’s death is of infinite worth because He reconciled the redeemed to the God of infinite worth and He redeemed us from the infinite—not finite—hell we deserved. If hell were finite then the worth of Christ’s death would be lessened, it would not be of infinite worth. Yet, Jesus Christ, the Great Lamb of God is worthy of praise “forever and ever” (Rev. 5:13)!

Obviously, this is not an enjoyable topic but it is very important. If you are interested in looking at more on this topic you can do that here.

________________________

[1] “Hell is dreadful but it is not evil” (Randy Alcorn in the preface to Mark Galli’s book God Wins).

[2] C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain. Cf. J. I. Packer, Celebrating the Saving Work of God: The Collected Shorter Writings of J.I Packer Volume 1 (Carlisle, Cumbria: Paternoster Publishing, 1998), 172.

[3] “Some controversy is crucial for the sake of life-giving truth. Running from it is a sign of cowardice.  But enjoying it is usually a sign of pride.  Some necessary tasks are sad, and even victory is not without tears—unless there is pride.  The reason enjoying controversy is a sign of pride is that humility loves truth-based unity more than truth-based victory. Humility loves Christ-exalting exultation more than Christ-defending confrontation even more than Christ-defending vindication. Humility delights to worship Christ in spirit and truth.  If it must fight for worship sustaining truth, it will, but that is not because the fight is pleasant.  It’s not even because victory is pleasant.  It’s because knowing and loving and proclaiming Christ for who he really is and what he really did is pleasant” (John Piper, Contending for our All, 17). It is the job of those who have pastoral oversight to instruct in sound (healthy) doctrine and rebuke those who hold views that are not sound (healthy) (Titus 1:9-14; 2:1 cf. Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Tim. 6:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:23-28). Like Timothy, pastors must “reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). The shepherd’s desire is to ensure the orthodoxy and thus healthy orthopraxy of the church. Shepherds rebuke out of love for the individual and out of love for the church. It’s important to notice that “eternal judgment” is said to be “elementary doctrine” (Heb. 6:1-2).

[4] See Luke 12:47-48Hebrews 6:1-210:272 Peter 2:4,9; Jude 6-7; Revelation 14:10-11,13-1419:320:10,13-1421:7-8  (See also e.g. Ex. 9:16;  Deut. 32:22;  Is. 14:9-10; 33:14-15; 66:22-24; Jer. 5:25-31; 10:10-11, 25; 33:14:ff; 34:17ff; Nahum 1:2-8; Ps. 94:1-223Job 21:30-34;  Matt. 3:125:22293010:2818:8-923:153325:4146Mark 9:43-48Luke 12:5; 16:19-31; 1 Thess. 5:1-11; 2 Thess. 1:5-12; 2:8-12; James 3:6). For an in-depth study of hell as eternal conscious torment and its implication for evangelism and missions see Let the Nations be Glad by John Piper esp. pp. 121-127. As well as Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1148-153 and Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards Vol. 2, 515-525.

[5] As I approach the doctrine of hell and arguments in favor for against, I do not believe I come to the data with an a priori desire for the eternal punishment of the wicked to be true. If anything, I think my a priori desire would be that the eternal punishment of the wicked not be true.

[6] Clark Pinnock and Delwin Brown, Theological Crossfire: An Evangelical/Liberal Dialogue (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 226-27.

[7] See Allison, Historical Theology, 720.

[8] Timothy Keller, Center Church, 125.

[9] Keller, Reason for God, 74 see also Keller, Center Church, 125.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Quoted from Exclusion and Embrace in Keller, The Reason for God, 76-77.

[12] The Religious Affections, 252. Or for a more extended quote to the same point:

“The crime of being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionally more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligation to love, and honor, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.

Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority….But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty….

So sin against God, being violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving infinite punishment….The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite… and therefore renders it no more than proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of” (Jonathan Edwards, “The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 1 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 669.

[13] You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/B7MzHYBBPis.

[14] John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 38-39.

[15] See Jonathan Leeman, The Church and the Surprising Offensive of God’s Love and D. A. Carson’s book The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.

[16] T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden To The New Jerusalem, 155.

[17] Isaiah talks about the day of the LORD’s favor and in connection with this, the day of the vengeance of the LORD (Is. 61:2 notice the contrast between 66:22-23 and v. 24). The two go together. I give merely one example but there are many, especially in Isaiah.

[18] Packer, Knowing God, 117.

[19] Keller, The Reason for God, 85.

[20] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge Of The Holy: The Attributes Of God: Their Meaning In The Christian Life, 113.

[21] As quoted from Hope Has Its Reasons in Keller, The Reason for God, 76.

[22] Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” Sermons and Discourses: 1739-1742, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 22, Ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 405.

[23] Though I do not agree with most of the movie this I think is portrayed well in the movie Noah. People, left to their own devices are prone to extreme acts of wickedness.

[24] Robertson Mcquilkin, Biblical Ethics, 79.

[25] Keller, The Reason for God, 79.

[26] Ibid., 80.

[27] As quoted from C.S. Lewis in Keller, The Reason for God, 81) (See Lewis’ book The Great Divorce on this theme. “Those who are finally impenitent, who put themselves outside the ultimate purposes of God, have no part in God’s future. Their fate is described in a variety of ways, but it is clear that their self-chosen destiny is not God’s intended purpose for them” (K. E. Brower, “Eschatology” in NDBT, 464).

[28] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc: Wheation, 1993), 262-63.

[29] J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 102.

[30] This paragraph is dependent upon Timothy Keller’s, “The Importance of Hell.”

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 9 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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