September 26 I Thursday
“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” —Revelation 1:18
The idea of hell is abhorrent to us. How can it be otherwise? We may ask the question, where does the idea of hell come from? Is it some medieval fear, something embellished by Dante’s Inferno or something designed to manipulate and control people’s behaviour by holding over them this threat and fear of hell?
Interestingly, the primary teachings of hell come to us from Jesus Himself. Even in Paul’s 13 letters, he never mentions hell, although he talks about judgment and spiritual death. In the New Testament, our primary sources regarding hell are from Jesus Himself and the Book of Revelation. Therefore, our willingness to accept the doctrine of hell rests on the credibility of Jesus. He tells us, “...be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28), and he reiterates: “Fear Him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him” (Luke 12:5). From Jesus’s words, hell is a real place.
Yet, how could a loving God create such an awful place like hell? We want to define hell somehow differently. Surely “hell” does not really mean “hell” as we find it here in the finality of torment, pain and separation. A.W. Tozer once said, “The vague and tenuous hope that God is too kind to punish the ungodly has become a deadly opiate for the consciences of millions.” We cannot fool ourselves by saying hell does not exist.
The reformer Martin Luther once said, “What hell is we do not know, only this we know, that there is such a sure and a certain place.” Along the lines of Luther, C. S. Lewis writes in his book The Problem of Pain, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than [the doctrine of hell], if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.” Lewis continues, “I said glibly a moment ago that I would pay ‘any price’ to remove this doctrine. I lied. I could not pay one-thousandth part of the price that God has already paid to remove the fact. And here is the real problem: so much mercy, yet there is hell.”
Even though Hell is a very real place, Jesus’s death on the cross was enough to eliminate this consequence for people who have placed their faith in His finished work. As Christians, we have no fear of hell but hope and peace in knowing our eternity will be spent with Christ.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for dying on the cross and paying the price that eliminated going to hell as a Christian. Give me the boldness and courage to share this truth with others around me.