Monday, February 22, 2016

Hell on Trial by Robert Peterson

Eternal Hell is Real

I never liked the doctrine of eternal Hell and I still don't enjoy it. However, I now glorify God for the truth after reading this book. I read it eagerly, as I had just been praying for God to help me understand this doctrine and I'd spent far too long feeling unconvinced that Hell is really a place of everlasting torment. I'm no Greek expert, but some Annihilationists (those who believe Hell is not eternal) put up some convincing arguments... or "ear-tickling" ones if you will. Dr. Peterson helped dispel those myths. 

1. Old Testament

The author starts with verses in the Old Testament that prepared the Jewish people to have a full understanding of Hell when Jesus came along. 

"And they shall go forth, and look on the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring to all flesh."
-Isaiah 66:24

As this verse was explained my mind started to change. The kindness of God led me to repent and accept the meaning of eternal Hell. What does it mean for a fire to not be quenched? Well, what happens when your thirst is not quenched? You keep drinking. The fact that the fire needs to keep drinking something proves that there will always be an object for its consumption.

2. The Redeemer's Words on Hell

I loved that the next step from the Old Testament was Jesus. Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. That deserves repeating, Jesus said more about Hell than any other person in the entire Bible. Now, considering that Jesus is the most loving person in the Bible, why are people always quick to tell preachers that speak on Hell that they aren't loving like Jesus? It's because of a lack of Bible study. So the next question is why did Jesus talk about Hell so much? It's because the loving Christ did not want His listeners to go there. He wanted them to be lovingly warned, and His warnings were thorough!

Three times in the Gospel of Matthew, He refers to Hell as a place of "outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth." He also quotes the Isaiah verse mentioned above, often. He says it's better to cut out your eye than to go to Hell. He sets it alongside eternal life as its opposite and calls it eternal destruction. He talks about it so much Dr. Peterson had to write a book to contain all of the quotations and I'm running out of space. Let's just leave it at those few quotations. I highly recommend the book for a more extensive verse list and a Greek defense if that's what you were looking for. Hint: there's nothing about the Greek that suggests Hell is just annihilation.

3. What I Would Add

Recently, God showed me that He delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. This is something I also want to say again, because it has helped me understand how the abounding, loving heart of God is also the heart that wills for men to go to Hell. God delights in the justice of Hell, while not delighting in the mechanism. Lamentations 3:33 says "He does not afflict from His heart." Ezekiel 18:23 says He "does not delight in the death of the wicked." God is not a maniacal torturer who enjoys watching suffering. He is a loving Judge and a just Judge, who rejoices that the scales of justice are balanced. 

Glorify God for it

These scriptures are why I believe in eternal Hell. God's justice is why I glorify Him for it. Praise Him for His justice like the angels do. Warn people. Fear is uncomfortable, but healthy, so let's stop being sheepish and scare people about it. Jesus did! He said "do not fear him who can kill the body, but fear Him, who after killing the body can destroy both body and soul in Hell." If I were a doctor and my patient wouldn't believe they had cancer, I would scare them into believing and being treated, and that would be the most loving thing to do. I would tell my dying patient, I love and care about them, but to leave it at that would not be loving and caring. Let's not be shy to preach "the whole counsel of God." I pray that all who read this would live it. Thanks for your time.