Pastor J.D. explains that while hell is a difficult reality, it is something that the Bible teaches, and we can’t fully understand God and his world unless we grapple with it.

A glimpse inside this episode:

  • When we ask these questions, we have to evaluate if it’s because we want to get away from the seriousness and heaviness of what the Bible says about Hell.
  • I do believe that the vast majority of images used in the Bible about Hell are literal.
  • There obviously is a metaphorical co-import into them. For example, darkness represents the complete absence of God and fire represents an insatiable desire, etc.
  • So, it’s possible that there are both metaphorical and literal images that are part of what the Bible says about Hell.
  • However, one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard of this is if a particular image is a metaphor in the Bible, it’s almost always because the full reality behind it can’t really be described. In those situations, the reality is always much more intense than the actual physical image that is used.
  • So, it’s not that you’d say, “Oh, it’s a metaphor, so it’s really not that bad.” Instead, it is something in which the reality is so intense that the best way to describe it is by using these awful and horrendous images.
  • In the end, we must conclude, like the writer of Hebrews concludes, that, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31)
    • C.S. Lewis put it this way: “In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: ‘What are you asking God to do?’ . . . To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does. . . . In the end, there are only two kinds of people– those who say to God “thy will be done” and those to whom God says in the end ‘thy will be done.’” (The Problem of Pain, “Hell,” 116 and The Great Divorce, 69.)
  • God’s word tells us about hell for a reason. God tells us about hell to demonstrate to us the magnitude of His holiness. Hell is what hell is because the holiness of God is what it is. Hell is not one degree hotter than our sin demands that it be. Hell should make our mouths stand agape at the righteous and just holiness of God. It should make us tremble before His majesty and grandeur.
  • In fact, if you count up the verses, Jesus spoke more about hell than he did about heaven. One of the most famous skeptics in history, Bertrand Russell, said in his book, What I’m not a Christian, that Jesus’ teaching on hell was “the one profound defect in Christ’s character.” If we want to avoid the idea of hell, we can’t ignore the problem by just focusing on “meek and mild Jesus.”
  • 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.