The Importance of Hell

JP: A very good article on Hell by Tim Keller.

Tim Keller: The Importance of Hell

Excerpt:

In Matthew 10:28 Jesus says, “Do not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” He is speaking to disciples, some of whom will eventually be tortured, sawn in half, flayed and burned alive. Yet, he says, that is a picnic compared to hell. Clearly, for Jesus hell was a real place, since he said that after judgment day people would experience it in their bodies. Hell is a place not only of physical but also of spiritual misery.

Jesus constantly depicted hell as painful fire and “outer darkness” (Matt 25:30; cf. Jude 6,7,13,) a place of unimaginably terrible misery and unhappiness. If Jesus, the Lord of Love and Author of Grace spoke about hell more often, and in a more vivid, blood-curdling manner than anyone else, it must be a crucial truth. But why was it so important to Jesus?

Keller’s points are as follows: Hell is a very important part of the Christian faith, because:

  1. It is important because Jesus taught about it more than all other Biblical authors put together
  2. It is important because it shows how infinitely dependent we are on God for everything
  3. It is important because it unveils the seriousness and danger of living life for yourself
  4. 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

Conclusion:

The doctrine of hell is crucial-without it we can’t understand our complete dependence on God, the character and danger of even the smallest sins, and the true scope of the costly love of Jesus. Nevertheless, 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, as we have seen, 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, 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.

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State Fair (Labor Day 9/1)

  • What: State Fair
  • When: Labor Day
  • Meet at church at 9:25 a.m. (in front)
  • Gate admission: $ 11.00
  • Transportation: Car pool

4BYA open house (Wednesday July 30th)

  • What: Annual Open House to welcome recent High School graduates and others new to Fourth Baptist.
  • When: Wednesday night July 30th at 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: here
  • Why: To welcome new people who are interested in 4BYA
  • More what:
    • Casual fellowship
    • Refreshments
  • Who’s speaking: Pastor Dave Levy

Why God Doesn’t Fully Explain Pain

JP: Worthwhile read from John Piper.

Why God Doesn’t Fully Explain Pain

Excerpt:

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions.
God says things like:

  • These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8).
  • These happened to that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1).
  • This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1).
  • This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12).

But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people?

The problem is, we would have to be God to grasp all that God is doing in our problems. In fact, pushing too hard for more detailed explanations from God is a kind of demand that we be God.