Rob Bell is stirring up a lot of discussion about Hell with his new book, Love Wins.
Below are 5 questions about hell that need to be answered, as well as Scripture and helpful thoughts from Christian authors that point in the right direction. These questions are complicated and have implications that go far beyond any blog post. Hopefully, these verses and thoughts will serve as a starting point, a direction for others to follow when they pursue answers to these questions.
Lucid Books would love to publish a book about heaven, hell, and the current theological firestorm raging over the doctrine of eternal punishment. We are committed to engaging debate and furthering the gospel, and would love to publish a response to Love Wins. If you are interested, contact us here.
Is Hell real?
Can anything positive come from believing in Hell?
Why does God create people who go to Hell?
Are those who have never heard of Christ going to Hell?
Is Hell a Lake of Fire? Really, we are supposed to believe that?
Helpful Verses on Eternal Judgment, Christ, and Hell
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””
“For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
““Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”
(Matthew 25:41 ESV)
“And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”
(Mark 9:43 ESV)
“‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”
Helpful Quotes on Hell
Wayne Grudem defines hell as “a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked.” (Systematic Theology, 1148)
“Earth is the closest place to hell that Christians will ever experience and the closest place to heaven that unbelievers will ever experience.”
“Be sure that there is something inside of you which, unless it is altered, will put it out of God’s power to prevent your being eternally miserable. While that something remains there can no Heaven for you, just as there can be no sweet smells for a man with a cold in the nose, and no music for a man who is deaf. It’s not a question of God ‘sending’ us to Hell. In each of us there is something growing up which will of itself be Hell unless it is nipped in the bud. The matter is serious: let us put ourselves in His hands at once – this very day, this very hour.” (C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock 154-155)
“How can we love a holy God? The simplest answer I can give to this vital question is that we can't. Loving a holy God is beyond our moral power. The only kind of God we can love by our sinful nature is an unholy god, an idol made by our own hands. Unless we are born of the Spirit of God, unless God sheds His holy love in our hearts, unless He stoops in His grace to change our hearts, we will not love Him. He is the One who takes the initiative to restore our souls. Without Him we can do nothing of righteousness. Without Him we would be doomed to everlasting alienation from His holiness. We can love Him only because He first loved us. To love a holy God requires grace, grace strong enough to pierce our hardened hearts and awaken our moribund souls.” (Sproul, The Holiness of God 183)
“The reason it is hard for us to think of the doctrine of hell is because God has put in our hearts a portion of his own love for people created in his image, even his love for sinners who rebel against him. As long as we are in this life, and as long as we see and think about others who need to hear the gospel and trust in Christ for salvation, it should cause us great distress and agony of spirit to think about eternal punishment. Yet we must also realize that whatever God in his wisdom has ordained and taught in Scripture is right. Therefore we must be careful that we do not hate this doctrine or rebel against it, but rather we should seek, insofar as we are able, to come to the point where we acknowledge that eternal punishment is good and right, because in God there is no unrighteousness at all.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology 1152)
“Then I said that I thought a person who is in hell would do everything in his power to be in a lake of fire rather than to be where he is. I really have no graphic picture of hell in my mind, but I can't think of any concept more terrifying to the human consciousness than that concept. I know that it’s a very unpopular concept and that even Christians shrink in horror at the very idea of a place called hell.” (R.C. Sproul, Now, That’s A Good Question, 303)
For additional information, these are all great resources on hell and a loving God.