In this fourth week of our current message series, God’s Not Dead, we want to look at the reality of Hell. Atheists argue that a loving God cannot create Hell. Because there is no Hell, there is no God. But more and more “religious people” also are rejecting the biblical doctrine of Hell. They contend that a God of love and mercy could not create such a place as Hell and confine man, who is created in his own image, to such a horrible place for eternity.
If there is an eternal Hell, you are entitled to know about it to be warned thereby. If the notion of a Hell of torment is a doctrine of men, you are certainly entitled to know that too. It would be morally wrong to teach the idea of a burning Hell just to scare people into doing certain things.
The fact of sin’s existence proves that there is a Hell. From the Bible, we learn sin is a “transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). But if there were no penalty imposed for breaking the law, the law would be worthless. Take, for example, the laws that govern speed on our highways. We know that if we disobey these laws, we will be charged. So, if there were no laws to regulate speed, men could drive at any speed they desired and not be guilty of any crime. But in order to make the laws effective, there are penalties for their violations and people are charged with enforcing them.
In the same way, the law of God would be meaningless if there were no penalty for its transgression. The fact of a penalty for the violation of God’s law is an incentive for people to obey him rather than transgress his laws. Sin, the violation of God’s law, is an unquestionable reality; therefore Hell, the penalty for sin also must be a reality.
The Bible ascribes many characteristics to God. He is described as love but is also described as a God of justice. Neither of these characteristics should be exaggerated as to exclude the other. Some have supposed that, since God is a God of great love, he could not possibly bring suffering to anyone for any reason. But since he is also a God of justice and holiness, he must punish sin.
The book of Hebrews makes this very same argument about the necessary punishment for sin. “Therefore, we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through the angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him” (Hebrews 2:1-3).
God must punish those who break his law. Since his law is the highest and holiest of all laws. Hell exists because God is a God of Love and is a God of Justice.
—Fr. Celestine Tyowua, Parochial Vicar
Father Roger Gustafson