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How could a good and loving God condemn to hell an innocent person who’s never even heard of Jesus, let alone what He did in His life, death, and resurrection?
“First… God’s revelation in nature is sufficient only to condemn, not to save [ Rom 1:18-23 ]. Though [every single sentient person on Earth, regardless of their culture or location or time of life and death] ‘knows God‘ (v. 21), he [or she] ‘suppresses the truth‘ (v. 18) perceptible in nature and is therefore ‘without excuse‘ (v. 20). Humans aren’t guilty because they haven’t heard the gospel; they’re guilty because they haven’t honored their Creator. In other words, not because of the absence of something (faith), but because of the presence of something (rebellion) [which includes denial of God’s existence, holiness, and righteous judgment against those who persist in such denials]. So will God condemn the innocent [person] who has never heard the name of Christ? No, because there are no innocent [persons]. Scripture simply does not picture fallen humans as having some vague but noble desire for mercy and forgiveness. Moreover, we seem to have an inescapable pull toward enacting our faith in [idolatrous] ritual[s] [expressed as religions], liturg[ies] [expressed as religious worship traditions], and sacrifice[s] [also expressed as religious worship traditions]. So what does the [so-called ‘innocent‘ person who has never even heard of Jesus or His Gospel of grace] do? In the imagination of the inclusivist [who believes God would never judge such ‘innocent’ persons], he just cries out for vague mercy and forgiveness, claiming no merits of his own. In the real world, however [defined by almighty God, recorded in His Word, the Bible], he [or she] probably participates in a form of idolatrous… religion that contradicts and undermines the gospel of grace…
Second, the necessity of gospel faith for salvation is on display in Romans 10 …
1. The only way to be saved is to call on Christ’s name.
2. The only way to call on Christ’s name is to believe the gospel.
3. The only way to believe the gospel is to hear the gospel.
4. The only way to hear the gospel is to be told the gospel.
The [possibility] of another means of salvation besides faith in ‘the word of Christ‘ is [impossible] to square with this passage [and many others, e.g. John 14:6 , Acts 4:12 ] … it is not our place to subject the Creator to our finite and fallen notions of fairness. Our task is to take [God] at his word and trust his heart. His ways are higher and different than ours ( Isa. 55:8–9 ). He needs no counselor, for he is good and does good ( Ps. 119:68 ; Rom. 11:34 ). The Judge of all the earth will do right ( Gen. 18:25 ). And above all, we must stare at Calvary, the summit of wisdom and the intersection of justice and love. There, on a Roman tree, the Judge of all the earth hung in the place of rebels who wanted nothing to do with him.”
“How can it be right for a good and just God to impose an eternal punishment for merely temporal sins?
The atheist who [asks this question] finds support for his or her suspicion that the Christian concept of a good God is incoherent.
The “Christian” who does so seeks to revise or eliminate altogether the [biblical] doctrine of eternal punishment.”
“… when it came to hell… 31% [of self-identified evangelical “Christians” said] they were unsure what to believe…”
“Many ‘evangelicals’ are ashamed of this biblical doctrine, viewing it as a blemish to be covered up by the cosmetic of divine love. But this dishonors God’s Word.”
Five biblical passages unequivocally describe hell as eternal conscious punishment:
Mat 25:41 & 46; Mark 9:42–48; 2Thess 1:5–10; Rev 14:9– 11; and Rev 20:10, 14–15
7 Truths About Hell
In one sense, God doesn’t send anyone to hell; we send ourselves.
In another sense, God does send people to hell, and all his ways are true and righteous altogether.
Why Should Someone Believe in Hell?
“[First,] Jesus spent more time talking about hell than He did about heaven… In His famous story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), He graphically portrayed the finality of eternal torment in hell… [Second,] the concept of choice demands that [Christians] believe in hell. Without hell, there is no choice… [because] the unrighteous [who, by definition , hate God] would be incarcerated in heaven against their wills, which [for them] would be a torture worse than hell… [because they] would be stripped of freedom [for eternity] and forced to worship God against their will… [Third,] common sense regarding justice dictates that there must be a hell. Without hell, the wrongs of Hitler’s Holocaust [and countless other murderers, whether of millions or just of one person whom God made in His own image] would never be righted… It is also crucial to recognize that not all existence in hell will be equal. We may safely conclude that Hitler’s torment in hell will greatly exceed the torment experienced by a garden-variety pagan. God is perfectly just, and each person who spurns His grace will suffer exactly what he or she deserves (see Luke 12:47–48; cf. Prov. 24:12; Matt. 16:27; Col. 3:25; Rev. 20:11–15).”
“Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus… That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols [rather than symbols pointing to eternal realities]… [T]here will [also] be no cruelty [in hell]. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer [in hell, partly because God is perfectly just and partly because there is no such thing as an ‘innocent person‘ ].”
“In 2 Thessalonians 1:5–12, Paul paints a picture of what believers and nonbelievers can expect at the return of Jesus. Those who have not believed the gospel can expect only eternal affliction from God as they suffer the divine vengeance for their sins (vv. 5–8). Importantly, this does not mean the absence of God’s presence. Many popular evangelical conceptions of hell in our day hold that hell is merely a state of being away from the Creator. There is some truth in this in that hell entails experiencing the absence of God’s blessing. However, hell is not the absence of God’s presence. Verse 9 indicates that eternal ‘destruction‘ is “from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” The ESV inserts an “away” before the first “from,” but the “away” is not in the original Greek, and commentators argue that Paul means that the impenitent will suffer the wrath of God in the presence of God [delivered] “from” [or by] the hand of God. This must be so, for God is present everywhere in creation, even in hell (Ps. 139:7–12). Hell is not the absence of God, for the wicked would love nothing more than to have no contact whatsoever with the Lord. Instead, hell is a place of direct encounter with divine holiness in the absence of God’s grace. Thus, the reprobate experience God’s presence as punishment.”
“The person who rejects God does not know the real horrors of hell. This may be because he does not believe hell exists, or it may be because he convinces himself that it would be tolerably preferable to heaven. But whatever he believes or does not believe, when he chooses against God, he is wrong about God and about hell. He is not, at that point, preferring the real hell over the real God. He is [willfully] blind to both. He does not perceive the true glories of God, and he does not perceive the true horrors of hell. So when a person chooses against God and, therefore, de facto chooses hell — or when he jokes about preferring hell with his friends over heaven with boring religious people — he does not know what he is doing. What he rejects is not the real heaven… and what he wants is not the real hell, but the tolerable hell of his imagination. When he dies, he will be shocked beyond words. The miseries are so great he would do anything in his power to escape [but] it is not in his power to repent [when in hell, just as it is in no one’s power to repent when on Earth]… What sinners want is not hell but sin. That hell is the inevitable consequence of unforgiven sin does not make [hell] desirable [to unrepentant sinners]. [The reality of hell] is not what [unrepentant sinners] want… [What they want is to continue in their sin and their hatred of God while they are on Earth even more than they want to avoid the reality of hell for eternity, where they will no longer have the option to repent]… The reason the Bible speaks of people being ‘thrown‘ into hell [Rev 20:15] is that no one will willingly go there once they see what it really is. No one standing on the shore of the lake of fire jumps in. They do not choose it, and they will not want it. They ha[d] chosen sin [while on Earth]. They ha[d] wanted sin. [But t]hey [did] not want the punishment [when they still had the option to repent of their sin]. When they come to the shore of this fiery lake, they must be ‘thrown‘ in… I thank God, as a hell-deserving sinner, for Jesus Christ my Savior, who became a curse for me and suffered hellish pain that He might deliver me from the wrath to come. While there is time [while living here on Earth], He will do that for anyone who turns from sin and treasures Him and His work [to save them from the inevitable consequences of their sin] above all.”
“I don’t think God categorizes [i.e. prioritizes, by way of a hierarchy, people’s] sins.”
[Unfortunately for those who believe that lie, God says otherwise .]
Hell is not a subject that most of us love to discuss. But discuss we must.
The Importance of Hell
“We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus… the pre-eminent teacher of love and grace in history… said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus… ‘I am less barbaric than you, Jesus — I am more compassionate and wiser than you.‘ Surely that should give us pause! Indeed, upon reflection, it is because of the doctrine of judgment and hell that Jesus’ proclamations of grace and love are so astounding.”
“… the Bible clearly teaches an everlasting state of punishment for those who reject the gospel…. this book is extremely valuable for refuting error and promoting a sense of urgency in evangelism.”
Purgatory: Is There a Second Chance to Believe After Death?
Short Answer: No
GOD’S LOVE AND GOD’S WRATH
Rescuing Hell: Defending the Doctrine of Eternal Punishment
Biblical Images of hell
Review of Love Wins by Rob Bell
Universalism vs. Matt. 25:46