Why I Don’t Like Hell & Why It Doesn’t Matter (2/2)
Yes, I don’t like Hell. No, it doesn’t matter.
Neither my emotions nor my opinions possess enough
transformational power to change the doctrine of Hell by one degree. What does not matter, in an ultimate sense, is my perspective of God’s eternal judgment.
In a previous post, I stated that Hell must only be spoken of in the context of the gospel. I would like to here suggest that God’s judgment cannot be fully grasped, yet this should not create a paralyzing force in the life of the believer. Rather, it should lead the Christian to deeper praise. As the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the believers in Rome:
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” -Romans 11:33
The Apostle highlights our lack of understanding: God’s judgments are inscrutable. The limits of our finite comprehension are set against the backdrop of God’s wisdom. In short, His ways are higher than ours: They are unsearchable.
Paul follows this statement in Romans with 3 questions:
1.) Who has known the mind of the Lord? (Romans 11:34)
2.) Who has been his counselor? (Romans 11:34)
3.) Who has given God a gift for which he is indebted? (Romans 11:35)
These rhetorical questions assume their response. The reply “no one” is anticipated to follow the question of “who.” The positive message of God’s grace forces the negative answer. According to the Bible, man is created as a finite, yet eternal soul. His history on earth is marked by rebellion to the Creator. In Adam he is guilty by nature, in life he is guilty by choice.
In spite of this, God has visited his creation and endured man’s rightful judgment through the cross. The breath taking story of Scripture is not that God judges his creation, but that he offers forgiveness and life. That some would go to Hell should not be alarming in the biblical narrative. What is really striking, is that God offers Heaven at all.
While the idea of Hell chafes my preferences and sensitivities, it seems that a higher purpose is at play. As a believer, I find myself in awe that God is offering atonement to anyone. This is too wonderful for words. It is beyond understanding.
In spite of a lack of perfect knowledge on my part, I can rejoice in God’s redemptive work revealed in Scripture. Thus, Paul concludes the eleventh chapter of Romans with doxology. This final verse presents an appropriate attitude that should be developed and nurtured by all believers:
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” -Romans 11:36