Hell is important.
- It is important because Jesus taught about it more than all other Biblical authors put together.
- It is important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything.
- It is important because it unveils the seriousness and danger of living life for yourself.
- The doctrine of hell is important because it is the only way to know how much Jesus loved us and how much He did for us.
… It is possible to stress the doctrine of hell in unwise ways. Many, for fear of doctrinal compromise, want to put all the emphasis on God’s active judgment, and none on the self-chosen character of hell.
Ironically … this unBiblical imbalance often makes it less of a deterrent to non-believers rather than more of one. And some can preach hell in such a way that people reform their lives only out of a self-interested fear of avoiding consequences, not out of love and loyalty to the One who embraced and experienced hell in our place. The distinction between those two motives is all-important. The first creates a moralist, the second a born-again believer.
We must come to grips with the fact that Jesus said more about hell than Daniel, Isaiah, Paul, John, and Peter put together. Before we dismiss this, we have to realize we are saying to Jesus, the pre-eminent Teacher of love and grace in history, “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. We run from the presence of God and therefore God actively gives us up to our desire (Romans 1:24,26).
Hell is therefore a prison in which the doors are first locked from the inside by us and therefore are locked from the outside by God (Luke 16:26). Every indication is that those doors continue to stay forever barred from the inside.
Though every knee and tongue in hell knows that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), no one can seek or want that Lordship without the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). This is why we can say that no one goes to hell who does not choose both to go and to stay there. What could be more fair than that?
C.S. Lewis on Hell:
“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.” All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek – find. Those who knock – it is opened. Hell is the greatest monument to human freedom.”
“It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud.
Hell, then, is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever.”