Q&A: Continued Belief in Hell

Continued Belief in Hell

Why should Christians today continue to believe in hell?

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Answer

Should Christians jettison the doctrine of hell? Should they believe in it? And if so, why? Well, the answer to that's really, on the one hand is relatively simple. On the other hand it's pretty profound. The simple answer is is the Bible teaches and God's Word is infallible and inerrant, and therefore we must hold to all that God's Word reveals, because it's true. And that's our responsibility, to be good stewards on the truth. Paul says that he is innocent of the blood of all men because he has declared the whole counsel of God. So, while we fully recognize that some doctrines are more important than others, there is no such thing as a superfluous doctrine in the Bible. And the doctrine of hell by no means would all into a secondary or tertiary element of doctrine.

So why is it so important? Well, number one is is you can't preach the gospel without preaching the doctrine of hell. The gospel is that God has delivered us from sin, death, hell and the grave, so if you don't articulate those issues—it's not good news if you don't know what the bad news is. And the bad news is that we are under the judgment of sin, we are under the power of sin, and therefore the wages of sin is death, and death is an eternal death of everlasting condemnation in a place called hell, and we go there by way of death, and therefore the grave seemingly has the victory, unless you've heard the good news that Jesus Christ has overcome death and the grave because he overcame our sin, and he did that by paying our penalty. So, on the cross he endured our hell—all the judgment of God for all the sins of all of his people for all of eternity. So, to preach the gospel you have to preach the doctrine of hell as well as sin and death and that Jesus delivers us from all of our enemies.

But the second reason is is that we can't be more spiritual than Jesus, and the number one teacher of the doctrine of hell is Jesus in the Bible. At least two-thirds, perhaps more than two-thirds of the material we have in the Bible comes directly from the lips of Jesus himself.

And then thirdly and finally is just an argument from church history. You can't have a Great Awakening without the gospel, and you can't preach the gospel without dealing with the issue of sin and hell. All great gospel awakenings have had a clear, robust preaching of the doctrine of hell.

Answer by Dr. Harry L. Reeder, III

Dr. Harry L. Reeder, III is the Senior Pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, AL.