Monday, 27 September 2010

Hell - would you believe it?

It seems far too ridiculous to be credible - demons running around with pitch-forks torturing people.  Of course I don't believe that either, but that's not what the Bible teaches about hell.  However, many just dismiss any ideas of hell as human invention and unbelievable, but I want to give you a few good reasons why you ought to believe it's real.

  1. Justice demands it - we all have an in-built sense of justice and are outraged when justice is not done.  But we know that ultimate justice can't be done here on earth.  This sense of justice isn't something that atheism or evolution can adequately explain.  The Bible has a much better explanation - God has put the demand of His law upon our hearts (Romans 2 v 15).  That's why we know there is a right and there is a wrong, and that's how we know right from wrong.  That's why we feel guilty when we do certain actions - we know we have violated the law, and we get a sense of doom and foreboding because we recognise we deserve punishment for it.  CS Lewis developed and used this argument, stating that every desire we have has a fulfilment - but there are some desires that can't be fulfilled on earth, but the fact we have the desire tells us there is a fulfilment - God's judgment will fulfil it.  If there is no hell then there is a desire for which there is no fulfilment.
  2. Scripture declares it - we have looked at how the doctrine of hell is a Scriptural doctrine, and we have plenty of good reasons to take what the Bible seriously.  Consider the prophecies of the Bible.  Other holy books don't deal in the area of prophecy, for fairly obvious reasons - if you go into print on what the future holds you are putting yourself in a bind whereby people can test if you really do speak for God and from God.  Religious organisations like Jehovah's Witnesses have attempted to engage in prophecy and have been exposed as false prophets, so if you prophesy events that don't take place then you lose credability and can't really claim to speak with God's authority.  However, the prophets of ancient Israel had no hesitation in saying, "Thus saith the Lord..."  They prophesied local, national and global events, and did so in a theocratic system of government in which the death penalty was administered for being a false prophet.  Look at the amazingly detailed prophecies of the coming Christ which were fulfilled by the Lord Jesus (e.g. Psalm 22; Isaiah 52 v 13-53 v 12; Daniel 9 v 24-26; and the articles here).  Now if these writers could give such accurate information about events that would happen in this world, showing they were speaking from God, then that's a very good reason to believe their statements regarding the world to come.
  3. Christ described it - He spoke about it more than anyone else, and He went into more detail on it than anyone else (just one example - Luke 16 v 19-31).  What are we going to say about these statements He made?  Was He mistaken or misleading?  That is a huge assertion to make about Him.  When we consider the claims Jesus Christ made (e.g. Mark 14 v 61-62), the life He lived, and the teachings He gave, coupled to the fact that His resurrection validates His claims, there is a massive mountain of evidence that what He said is true.  That mountain stands as strong and immovable as ever.  When we hear the warnings of Christ we ought to heed them as factual descriptions of awful reality.
There is a hell.  But the good news is you don't have to go there.  The sins that have earned our place in hell can be forgiven.  The sacrificial death of Christ can settle your account.  Come to Him for mercy, His promise is that those none who trust Him for salvation will ever perish.