The Reality of Hell

When I got up this morning, I didn’t think about hell, and I didn’t expect to when I picked up my devotional book. Not usually something covered in devotional books, but I happened to be reading a John Piper devotional book. There is no such thing as usual when it comes to the writings of John Piper.

Towards the end of the chapter he writes about Revelations 14, and how Jesus will be a witness to the torment of those who refuse to bow the knee to him. They will be tormented with burning sulphur, and the smoke will rise for ever and ever.

It also reminds me of the a sermon I wrote while in seminary. It was to be an evangelistic sermon. My main point was all of history is about Christ, and his crushing the head of the serpent on our behalf. But in the end I warned if you do not come and make peace with this King he will crush you too.

It is not a topic that I like to talk about. I rather wish it weren’t there. But I can’t wish it away. God will take out his vengeance on those who will not submit to him. To those who will not accept Christ’s payment on the Cross. To those who oppose him until the end.

You see sin is not a mere violation of a code, and God a ticky tack referee. Sin is a horrible thing because the most beautiful person in the world has created us, and given us life and promises us happiness in him. He has promised to take care of all our needs. He offers paradise. We, the creation, reject it. Not only do we reject it, but we reject him and believe ourselves to be wiser than him.

That is the lie that Adam and Eve bought. It was not about a piece of fruit. It was that they “might become like God.” It is what we do every time we sin, we reject God and set-up ourselves as gods in his place. And so Sin is intensely personal to God. It is not a rejection of code, but of God. Sin is infinitely evil because it is rejection of God, who is the ultimate good. For the world to be set right, evil must be crushed. Those who persist in rejecting God and his son Jesus will be crushed by Jesus. How terrifying a saviour he can be.

But when I run into those who are in danger of meeting such a fate far to often my response is silence. Can I feel right about allowing them to have such a fate with out warning? The knot in my stomach tells me no.

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