Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are We Still Serious about Hell?

Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt 10:28).

Here at TPC, we are strictly non-conformist, neither Anglican nor the son of an Anglican. Yet, we continually thank God for the Australian Anglicans and their ministry through Matthias Media! Their evangelistic efforts with Two Ways to Live, their book publishing with such gems as The Trellis & the Vine, and their monthly periodical, The Briefing, are continually Biblical, straight-forward, and helpful.

This continues with the most recent issue of The Briefing (June 2010), which is focused on the Church and the ignored (despised?) doctrine of Hell. In "Are We Still Serious About Hell?" Jonathan Gibson simply, but thoroughly, explains the current controversies and the biblical teaching on hell. Despite the intuitive difficulty, Gibson exhorts all Christians to upholding the Bible's clear teaching on hell:
But as I have studied this topic again, I am reminded of John Stott’s words: the issue is “not what does my heart tell me, but what does God’s word say?" If what God’s word says is true—that hell really does exist—then I need to face it. Ignoring it, denying it or even reinterpreting it will not change its reality. In fact, I believe that the reality of hell explains why Jesus taught more about it than he did about heaven. When given the only opportunity that we know of to address thousands of people, Jesus chose to speak about hell (Luke 12). And when interrupted with the tragic news of Pilate’s slaughter of Galileans (Luke 13:1-5), he refused to be taken off the topic: “unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (v. 3).

All this is to say that the issue of hell ultimately comes down to trusting Jesus—trusting that he’s telling us the truth and that he’s telling us for our good. I believe with all my heart that he is worth trusting, for he too wept over Jerusalem and, what’s more, vanquished hell, so that Jerusalem and all the ends of the earth might enjoy his heaven—a new heavens and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
Gibson has also expanded greatly on his article in three on-line posts that are worth your time:
  • Hell: Is the church still serious about it?
  • Hell: Theological Reflections on Hell
  • Hell: Pastoral Reflections on Hell

    1. "Two Ways to Live" is actually a little light on hell, IMO. Of course it's a short tract, but it says things like separation from God and death, but not eternal punishment, wrath, fire, etc.

      Even when evangelicals do talk about hell they tend to soften it up.

    2. Good point! They're not always consistent... you know Anglicans. :) My suggestion is getting the Two Ways to Live guys together with The Way of the Master guys (also Australian!) together and then we'll actually have a pre-packaged and full Gospel presentation! They could call it, "The Way of the Master to Live" or something.