Conclusions on Hell

I’m doing a message on hell tomorrow, and it’s just very difficult to come to any sort of conclusion on this topic.  I’ll post my message next week, but in the meantime, here are some of the conclusions that I think I’m coming to.

  • Hell is the opposite of the Kingdom of God
  • The Kingdom of God is a present reality and a future one.
  • Hell is a present reality and a future one.
  • Hell is not about punishment but about judgment
  • Judgment is about setting things right
  • Hell is being judged, therefore being set right.

Got any you want to add?

12 Comments

  • Look forward to reading your sermon.

  • Regarding your last two points, I agree that judgement is about setting things right, but deeper than that it is about justice. If one is on the wrong side of justice, if one’s heart and actions are working to make things wrong rather than right, unjust rather than just, than judgment will be a terrible thing. I don’t think the logic of your last point follows from your second last point. You have somehow made a leap from judgment being about setting things right, bringing justice, to judgement being about each person being set right. The possibility exists that some will forever resist God’s justice and therefore never be “set right.” Perhaps hell could be a place prepared for these unrepentant people to go, since they will never be able to dwell peacefully in the kingdom of God?

  • that’s hot. our present day choices have a huge impact on the reality of hell from what i see in scripture… ie. lazarus and the rich man – dude was ‘burning’ not because he missed a doctrinal point.

    i did a bunch of research on it earlier in the year – and agree, there don’t seem to be many conclusions on it… most talks/books seem to be either the same old turn or burn, and the rest seems to dance around what hell is not, or a re-emphasis on the kingdom… which is fine by me, but still a bit unsettling.

  • Hey Brandon. A few things with your comment that stick out. I’m not sure if I know what the difference is between judgment and justice besides it almost being like a verb and a noun?

    Is there such thing as being on the wrong side of justice? My understanding that God brings justice and reconciles the whole world, setting all things right, so how do you end up on the wrong side of that?

    Yes the possibility does exist that someone can forever resist God’s justice, however I do believe that their resisting (ie. hell) is in fact part of the cleansing and restoring of justice.

  • Good thoughts. I have done a lot of thinking about Hell, and I think that people either see it too black and white (i.e. a literal burning fire where sinners who haven’t accepted Jesus go) or they see it too abstractly (only an idea). I feel myself somewhere in between the two.

    I just want to say that I really like your thoughts.

  • I think justice IS setting things right.

  • I really like what you say. That last comment was a response to what Brandon said.

  • “I couldn’t agree more. I learned that one a few years ago when someone close to me did something pretty “bad”. . . previously I would have judged anyone else in that position and maybe even gotten angry but I loved this person so much and I realized that even though they had done this “horrible” thing, who they were as a person hadn’t changed at all. . .that any given moment any of us is capable of anything and we just make choices and some choices are better than others but who we are is unchanging and beautiful no matter what we do. . .”

  • Ok, so I see how it sounded like I thought there was a big difference between judgment and justice… should have chosen my words more carefully as I agree that justice is setting things right. Judgment is a part of justice, but justice imo is the deeper thing that judgment is part of. Anyway, beside the point…

    I understand setting things right as restoration, recreation, redemption, the fulfillment of all the promises of scripture. Justice is part of that. The part that i was reacting to was your last statement: “Hell is being judged, therefore being set right.” I was trying to point out that some people may never be set right in the sense of being restored to full humanity as they were created to be because they may forever resist grace.

    These people then, would not be “set right.” They would be on the wrong side of justice because they would be working against it. They would never become fully human because they would always resist God’s justice, judgment, and setting of things right.

    I suppose this puts me firmly in the Wesleyan/Arminian camp as well as in direct opposition to universalism. I’m ok with that. I think universalism severely diminishes justice.

    Ahhh…there’s more thoughts but i’ll keep them to myself as it is hard to have a decent conversation on a blog… Good stuff Nathan. Hope to see you around sometime soon.

  • Hey Brandon, I see where you are coming from and for the most part I would agree but probably use different language to explain it. I would probably say that God is always trying reconcile and set things right (judge) and that there are some that reject this and will reject it for a long time. So I wouldn’t say they are on the wrong side of justice as much as I would say that they have not fully been judged.

    There is part of me believes though that the doors of the kingdom of God will never be shut, and I hope that one day even the most stubborn will accept the free gift. Of course though, it wouldn’t be very just to bring that by force or cohersion.

    You gonna me at Wesley Acres this month?

  • Yeah, I’ll be at the Acres.

    I liked what you said in your sermon about remembering that God is good, that he gave his life to save us and loves us passionately. Ultimately for me it comes down to that, to trusting that God is good and just and wants all people to be reconciled to him. So I don’t know exactly how it will work out, but I trust my Abba.

    I also hope that one day even the most stubborn will accept the free gift. There is part of me that wonders how effective God’s redemptive and recreative work would be if there are some that can resist it. Perhaps there is something there the Reformed side of theology has to teach me, but I also can’t get away from the idea that love requires the possibility and risk of rejection.

    Anyway… appreciate your thoughts on this. It’s a subject not many are willing to tackle these days.

  • Man, I totally agree about Hell being in the present. As a teenager, many years ago, I found myself living on Yonge St in Toronto. My life descended into hell. I think hell is a place of absolute aloneness, totally void of relationship. The prodigal son experienced a living hell. Jesus, ” my God, my God, why have you foresaken me”, experienced hell. I think maybe Jesus in Gethsemane, sweating blood…maybe that was his greatest fear…a place of being utterly alone…with absolutely no relationship, no God, no other being. thank scares me much more than fire, and the gnashing of teeth.

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