In a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Do We Still Need to Believe in Hell?” Dr. Scott G. Bruce, professor of history at Fordham University, argues that “Hell is a cruel and oppressive concept.”
The professor writes that “Hell lost some of its purchase on humankind in the 19th century when new scientific theories such as Darwinism eroded the authority of the Bible and the tides of sentiment turned against God’s wrath in favor of His mercy.”
“… In some distant, better future,” Bruce opines, “the foreclosure of Hell will be an important step in the maturation of human communities that can mete out justice on their own, without supernatural aid.”
Dr. Bruce is not the first, nor will he be the last to question Scriptural teaching on eternal punishment, or even question the veracity of the Bible’s authority. But he will be among those that are sadly mistaken.
First of all, Darwin evolution is not a fact, but a theory. One in which some of its basic tenants are disputed by many scientists today.
Of course, when one doubts the authority of God’s Word, then any Biblical doctrine is open to dispute from the doctrine of Creationism to the teaching regarding eternity.
Jesus claimed to come from God. To do the Father’s will. To speak for the Father. And to be One with the Father, as the son of God. If we take seriously those claims, then we must accept His affirmation “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt 28:18)
Jesus spoke frequently about Hell and never called it a “concept.” Instead, He identified it as a reality. Jesus described Hell as a “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 13:42).
Jesus warned, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matt 10:28-29)
Furthermore, Jesus denounced the hypocritical religious leaders of his day saying, “Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? (Matt 23:33)
In a similar way, the apostle Paul writes that at Christ’s second coming He will be “revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might ( 2 Thess 1:7-9)
In the last book of the Bible, John, the apostle of love, speaks of Hell in the Revelation letter. He says at the end of time the devil and his cohorts will “be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” and “tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10)
The Bible is clear. Hell is a real place. It’s not the figment of the imagination of a fundamentalist preacher. Hell is a place where those who deny God and refuse the gospel message will reside. Hell is a place of suffering and torment. The metaphor of “fire” says it all. Hell is a place of pain. And Hell is eternal. It lasts as long as heaven does. For eternity.
God is a God of love and mercy, but also one of justice and judgment. Paul, in the book of Romans, often speaks of “the wrath of God” inflicted on sinners who refuse to obey His Word.
God is not a sadistic Being hoping to send people to Hell. That’s why He sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8). That’s why He gave us the Bible (Eph. 3:1-6) That’s why he provided a plan for our salvation (Eph 1:3-23). In fact, Peter puts it this way: “(God) is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2Pet 3:9)
God doesn’t want you to go to Hell. But you may, if you reject the authority of His Word.
Choose life. Accept Christ. And live to receive the Heavenly reward.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman