Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 17 Number 3 March 2015
Page 10

Why Is Hell Real?

Robert Johnson

Robert JohnsonWhen you examine the words of Christ as recorded in the Gospel accounts of the New Testament, it is revealing to see that Jesus spent more time warning about the dangers of hell than speaking of the joy of heaven. This is not because He didn’t want us to think about the beauty of eternal life, or to realize how wonderful it will be, but because He didn’t want us to face eternal punishment. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew hell to be real, but a question that many desire answered today is why hell is real. Why does God have a place of punishment reserved in eternity for sinners?

Scripture reveals to us God as a righteous God. The term righteous, or just, refers to what is right, the standard established by God for us by which we are to live. That God has a specific way for us as His creation to live is evident in Scripture. The Psalmist reminds us, “I have sworn, and have confirmed it, that I will observe thy righteous ordinances” (Psalm 119:106). John reminds us sin is a violation of God’s will, His righteous standard. “Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Humanity may feel each person has the right to choose how to live and it be acceptable, but being our Creator, God has authority over us (Ephesians 4:6), as does His Son (Matthew 28:18).

As God has established His righteous will over humanity, a day of judgment is demanded, a day of accountability for the course in life one has chosen to live. “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). If there is a reward for those who have lived by God’s righteousness, there is punishment as well for those who have lived unrighteously. Paul wrote that God “will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation” (Romans 2:6-8). In teaching about the Judgment, Jesus concluded, “And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). In describing both conditions, Jesus used the same term. The never-ending nature of life in heaven is also true of the never-ending nature of life in torment.

Hell is real for the same reason heaven is real. God is a righteous God who has established His righteous will for us by which to live. Because there is this standard for conduct, there must of necessity be a day of Judgment, a day in which those righteous will be rewarded by being in the presence of God and His Son for eternity. It is also a day in which those who live unrighteously will be removed from the presence of God and His Son forever, and be tormented for eternity. This reality revealed in Scripture begs us to examine ourselves in light of its teaching, and determine for which we live, heaven or hell. It begs us to find life in Jesus Christ while there is still time, instead of condemnation in sin. You choose which eternal destiny is yours by how you live today; are you choosing poorly or wisely? “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28-29).

God’s Very Good Creation

Royce Pendergrass

Royce PendergrassWe read in Genesis 1:4, “God saw the light that it was good.” Further, “God called the dry land Earth and the gathering of the waters, He called seas and God saw that it was good” (verse 10); “The earth brought forth grass and herb yielding seed after his kind and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (verse 12); “God made two great lights – the greater light to rule over the day and the lesser light to rule the night…and God saw that it was good” (verse 16-18); “God created great whales and every living creature that moves…after their kind and every winged fowl after his kind and God saw that it was good” (verse 21); “God made the beast of the earth…the cattle...and every thing that creeps upon the earth…and God saw that it was good” (verse 25). In conclusion of God viewing His good creation, we read in verse 31, “God saw every thing that He had made and, behold, it was very good.”

Can we read about the creation and God’s satisfaction with His creation and think that it was anything less than good? The dictionary describes “good” as “best, having the right qualities,” “excellent,” “right” or “as it ought to be.” God used the highest standards for His creation; there were no flaws. Think about this; there is only one “o” that keeps “God” and “good” from being the same word. God created only good.

So what has gone wrong? We look at the world around us and see things that are no longer just “good.” What happened was that men began to listen to Satan instead of to God. Oh, all of God’s creation is still beautiful and excellent, but it’s just that men, prompted by Satan, have marred the beauty.

When we decided to move back to north Arkansas, one of the professors where Alice was working said, “Oh, you’re moving to beautiful Batesville on the banks of the beautiful White River.” That’s the kind of impression people normally have about the Batesville area. Yet, let me ask those of you who live here, “Have you noticed how the streets of beautiful Batesville and the banks of the beautiful White River have been trashed by men’s litter?” If you haven’t noticed, just head toward Southside and, right after you cross the river, look to the left across the field. The field is just a sampling of how much litter and trash is being thrown out. The farmer is not to blame; he did his job. He got his crop out and bush-hogged what was left and the field looked good and clean, but it’s not now!

Perhaps you remember a long-ago TV commercial of an old Indian crying because of the litter that men were scattering upon the earth. When I see how men are trashing God’s beautiful world, it makes me want to join the old Indian with my own tears. It’s disgraceful. From the beginning, Satan has been able to trick men to get them to do evil. Evil, as described in the dictionary, is “bad,” “wrong,” “sinful” and “wicked.” When you say or hear that something/someone is “bad,” you know that it means the opposite of “good.” “Evil” is opposite of the “good” that God created.

We can rest assured that one day those who have treated God’s creation with disdain will have to answer for their deeds. David spoke of those “who speak peace to their neighbors but mischief is in their hearts; give them according to their deeds and according to the wickedness of their doings…because they regard not the works of the Lord nor the operation of His hands, He will destroy them” (Psalm 28:3ff). The prophet Isaiah said almost the same thing in Isaiah 5:12; “They regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of His hands.” Paul told the Roman brethren, “He who regards the day, regards it to the Lord and he that does not regard the day does not regard it to the Lord” (Romans 14:6). Those who care about what happens daily will regard the work of the Lord and respect His creation and will want to preserve and not trash it. Paul wrote in verse 12, “Every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” In all ways, every one of us will be accountable to God for our actions; that includes what efforts we give toward making His beautiful creation an ugly one. Folks, respect God’s “very good” creation and help keep it beautiful!

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