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Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Hell Real?

Pastor Rob Bell has written a book, Love Wins, to debate the traditional theological view that hell exists as a place of eternal torment. According to him, the traditional teaching about hell is “misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear."

But isn’t the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness desperately needed because hell is real and Jesus demonstrated indescribable, self-sacrificing love to save us from hell? Isn’t that same message priceless because all who welcome it and believe on Jesus are bound for heaven instead of hell?

I probably won’t read Rob Bell’s book. As you can tell, my mind is already made up. I believe hell is a real place of punishment. Some readers may find Rob Bell’s book persuasive, but the book that persuaded me to believe in hell is much older and far more reliable that Bell’s. As a matter of fact, it is infallible and fully authoritative. It is the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t quote Rob Bell, but it quotes Jesus. Jesus described hell as a place of eternal fire (Matthew 18:8, 9). He also said He would consign unbelievers to “eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (25:41).

Of course the devil and his angels won’t share royalties from the sale of Love Wins, but don’t you think they will be working hard to promote it?

Revelation 20:10-15 describes the Great White Throne Judgment of all unbelievers. Verse 15 predicts: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

For me, the belief that hell exists as a place of eternal, conscious suffering springs from my belief that the Bible is God’s verbally inspired Word. I also believe in plenary inspiration, that all parts of the Bible are equally inspired. I can’t air-condition hell or deny its existence without cutting certain passages from the same book that tells us “God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

I’m glad God’s love won me, and Jesus saved me from eternal hell.