Part 5 The importance of hell by Pastor Tim Keller

Pastor Tim Keller wrote an interesting commentary entitled, “The Importance of Hell.”[1]  His article brings forth some crucial points in the discussion on hell.  I would like to summarize his four main points.

1.   It is important because Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else.  Jesus is someone most people respect and are willing to listen to.  He spoke from the perspective of being fully God and fully man.  This gives Him incredible authority to speak about God’s justice and His judgments.  Jesus can be said to be the Lord of love and the author of grace and yet He paints a horrific description of hell.

2.   It is important because it shows our utter dependence upon God.  Hell teaches us separation from God is the worst thing that can ever happen to anyone.  We were originally created to walk with God.  It is sin that separates us.  Without God our souls lose the ability to reason, feel, chose, give, or receive love or joy.  We were designed to worship God and enjoy Him forever.  Separation from God removes those positive qualities resulting in hell.

3.   It is important because it unveils the danger of living for self.  In hell God gives us over to our sinful passions.  J.I. Packer writes: “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen…Hell appears as God’s gesture of respect for human choice.  All receive what they actually chose, either to be with God forever, worshipping him, or without God forever, worshipping themselves.”  (J.I. Packer, Concise Theology p. 262-263)  In hell we get what we most wanted here on earth, to be masters of our own life.  Even in this world we see self-centeredness is a destructive lifestyle.  The more self-absorbed and self-pitying we are, the increased likelihood breakdowns will occur.  A soul focused on God lives a more fulfilled life.  Interesting was in the parable in Luke 16:19ff it shows the rich man blame-shifting.  He was saying he didn’t have enough information to avoid hell.  He told Abraham to warn his family about the horrors of hell.  Abraham says they have the scriptures and can make the right decision.  The rich man never repented or sought after the presence of God; he still was locked into self-worship.  CS Lewis says the doors to hell are locked from the inside.

4.  It is important because we can clearly see how much Jesus loves us and how much He did for us.  The death of Jesus on the cross was a horrible experience but nothing compared to the pain in His soul.  God forsaking Him was far worse.  It was a glimpse of hell.  For that period of time it was a loss of relationship with the Father.  In human relations separation can be emotionally devastating.  The closer the relationship, the tougher it is when the person walks away from us.  Imagine the perfect relationship between the Father and the Son.  The Father forsaking the Son had to be unimaginable.  Our understanding of who Jesus is answers the objection, “Why would God punish an innocent man to pay for my sins?”  It was God incarnated (God in human flesh) that took the punishment on the cross, not a third party.  Only at the cross is our relationship with God restored and we spend eternity loving and praising God for what he has done (Rev. 5:9-14).

Go to part 6 here

[1] Tim Keller, “The Importance of Hell,” Redeemer Presbyterian Church

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