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Week forty-nine Q&A: Where is Christ now? Christ rose bodily from the grave on the third day after His death and is seated at the right hand of the Father. The question for week fifty is: What’s does Christ’s resurrection mean for us?
I just finished reading a book written by John Piper entitled, “Jesus: The Only Way to God” The title of chapter two is, “Will Anyone Experience Eternal, Conscious Torment Under God’s Wrath?” Obviously, the chapter answers the title question. And I’m sure everyone reading this blog can answer the question without reading the chapter. Yes, anyone who has not been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, will most certainly suffer the wrath of God through eternal, conscious torment in hell. But Piper is writing this book to answer our contemporary culture’s doubts about the reality of a judgmental God and the actual existence of hell as it’s described in the Bible.
Dr. Piper’s support for the reality of eternal, conscious suffering in hell is powerful and inspiring. He starts his argument with the following premise:
“Some of the acts of God are extreme—like the size of the universe and the horrors of hell. Why is there such a vast universe with so much emptiness? And why is there such a horrible end to the life of one who refuses to accept God’s gracious gift of salvation? One answer is that finite vastness and horror are designed to make infinite vastness and holiness more clear.”
What he’s saying is that the universe is as huge as it is so that maybe we will begin to understand what the Bible means when it says that “Heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain Him.” (2 Chron. 2:6) If the universe were any smaller than it is, the Bible’s claim that it can’t contain Him (God) would not be as effective. The larger the universe, the larger our understanding of the God who created it—the God who calls it the works of His fingers. (Check out Psalm 8:3)
But how is that connected to the horrors of an eternal hell? Piper says that by demonstrating the immensity of God and “the infinite value of God’s glory,” the creator is helping mankind understand the immeasurable enormity of rejecting Him. Therefore, the heinous sin of rejecting this absolutely, immeasurably Holy God must be a correspondingly abominable punishment. Thus, the punishment of eternal, conscious torment in hell.
After citing dozens of Scripture passages in support of the reality of eternal hell, the author concludes his argument with this summary:
Hell is a dreadful reality. To speak of it lightly proves we do not grasp its horror. I know of no one who has overstated the terrors of hell. We can scarcely surpass the horrid images Jesus used. We are meant to shudder. Why? Because the infinite horrors of hell are intended to be a vivid demonstration of the infinite value of [God’s]glory which[our contemporary culture] has belittled. The Biblical assumption of the justice of hell is the clearest testimony to the infiniteness of the sin of failing to glorify God [by rejecting His gift of salvation].
Having made his point, Piper appeals to all of us who have been rescued from what we justly deserve by God’s amazing grace, to not cave into our culture’s denial of the reality of hell. And we do that by lovingly and unashamedly proclaiming the honest unadjusted Gospel. In ages past, the “horrors of hell” were used to scare people into a state of surrender that usually drove them in search of things that they could do in order earn an escape from the promised torment. The Gospel makes it clear that we can do nothing to earn our salvation; it’s only through God’s gift of grace. Today, Satan’s approach is to convince people that a just and loving God would never punish those who commit such an insignificant sin as refusing to accept His gift of Grace, with such an extreme judgment as eternal torment. That’s why we must not let fear of public scorn keep us from helping the world to see that their rejection of the Holy Creator (of this immeasurable universe) is a sin that justly deserves the Creator’s wrath. We’re not demonstrating our love for humanity when we allow them to be deceived into thinking that their denial of hell somehow makes it non-existent.
Written by Jim De Horn