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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

More on the Traditional Doctrine of "Hell"

As we prepare for the parables of Matthew 24-25, it is good to review again the implications of the traditional doctrine of "hell."

David Hocking (whom I like) was telling the story on his radio broadcast of his wife's aunt for whom they had been praying for many years. At a family gathering, she asked David about his knowledge of eternal life.

David shared with her the glorious gospel of the free grace of God and the woman surrendered her destiny to Christ. Obviously, that's a story I like to hear!

David said it was wonderful to be able to lead "that precious lady" to Christ. The Aunt died just a few days later (age 84). Did she become a "precious lady" to him on that day? No. But in his, and in most professing Christendom's theology, had she died the night before, God would be torturing her by fire, without hope, without end (worse than the Nazis could envision)... and we'd have to praise him for it.

I abandoned that doctrine about 15 years ago. I didn't abandon it because I didn't like it, but because it's not scriptural. It is monstrous and an attack on the character of God. Torturing people by fire serves no purpose. Even torturing Satan serves no purpose of God.

In logic, we understand that there is a point where extreme heat and pain are indistinguishable. There is no way to differentiate the fiery torment Satan would receive and the fiery torment his wife's aunt would receive.

Imagine a doctrine which takes someone burned alive in the ovens of Dachau only to open his eyes in the far worse, never-ending, fiery torture of God's torture chamber. And, again, as RC Sproul taught, we will find ourselves praising him for it? Sproul said this of his own mother being tortured. Monstrous.

The wages of sin is death. The choice we have is between life and perishing (Jn 3:16). There are also temporal ramifications for sin. Sin is a dead end. It is pleasurable for a season, yet leaves its slave empty. Faith offers us the ability to free ourselves from enslavement now and offers us the promise of incorruptibility and immortality in the resurrection.

"God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them."
-2 Cor 5:19

The work is complete, God only asks that it be appropriated by faith. Our ministry is to share the gospel of reconciliation.

"We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God." -2 Cor 5:20

That is our ministry, not scaring people into false professions to get "fire insurance." That's cheap preaching and the greatest evangelist of the age, Paul, never used it (for it is false).

To the religious, he offers life, if they will come:

"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life."
-John 5:39-40

To the wayward, he offers life, if they will come:

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”-John 8:12 
“I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life"-John 5:24 
"Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live."-John 11:25
That only makes sense if men are mortal and eternal life is only for those who are in the resurrection.

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