There is an idea that hell is not punitive – in other words, hell isn’t punishment for our sin – which is more palpable because it allows preachers to say that things like “hell is not God’s will, but ours“, but this isn’t faithful to the witness of God’s word.
God tells us that hell is both real and final; it is real, just, punitive, and it is final.
I preach this message because God said the he gave us these warnings to pierce our hearts with the fear of God, which is the beginning of knowledge, and turn us from sin to the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ:
Proverbs 16:6 (CSB) Iniquity is atoned for by loyalty and faithfulness, and one turns from evil by the fear of the Lord.
Isaiah 33:6 (CSB) There will be times of security for you — a storehouse of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.
I preach this message because I want Zion to have her treasure! The doctrine of hell should inspire fear in your hearts because it is real, and the God we love sends those who refuse to repent to hell because he is just and hates sin.
HELL IS PUNITIVE:
Matthew 25:41-43 (CSB) Then he will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger and you didn’t take me in; I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of me.
Hell isn’t our will, as many preachers like to say today, it is God’s punishment for those who love iniquity rather than Christ.
Romans 2:5-11 (CSB) Because of your hardened and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. 6 He will repay each one according to his works:, 7 eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. 9 There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no favoritism with God.
God’s wrath is the justly proportionate punishment for the hardened and unrepentant heart of sinners who persist in evil.
My heart and soul are enraptured by the glory, goodness, and love of God Almighty, and yet, I am simultaneously convinced by the witness of God’s word that he is going to execute punitive punishment on every person for the works that they have done in their life; how can this be? Because I am equally convinced that God is justified in doing so:
Revelation 20:11-15 (CSB) Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 13 Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
What are the works of your life?
Do you despise God? Do you hate his judgments? Do you love self? Do you love money? Are you boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, a slanderer, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, a traitor, reckless, or conceited? Do you love pleasure rather than God? Are you holding to a form of godliness but denying its life-changing power?
This subject is worthy of our full atention, but it rarely receives it because it is such an unpleasant topic that doesn’t mesh well with much modern Biblical theology.
Please take some time to deveote your undivided attention to reflect on some of these passages as we conclude our investigation into this subject here:
Genesis 2:17; 3:17–19; 4:13; Leviticus 26:27–33; Psalm 149:7; Isaiah 3:11; Ezekiel 14:10; Amos 1:2–10; 2:1–11; Zechariah 14:19; Matthew 25:41, 46; Luke 16:23, 24; Romans 2:5–12; Galatians 6:7, 8; Hebrews 10:29–31; and Revelation 20:1–15.
To investigate this subject further, please consider the following books: