Archive for ‘Hell’



I read this chilling depiction of hell recently in Charles Octavius Boothe’s Plain Theology for Plain People (Bellingham: Lexham, 2017 [1890]), 37:

This fearful doom is set forth in the one comprehensive word, “perish.”  It means, in the case of a sinner, the end of everything that can make existence desirable.  It is total and final separation from God, the source and fountain of all true blessedness; the cessation of all those pleasing anticipations that have been wont to throw their brightness on the future toward which men are always advancing; the end of all those hopes that have been to them strength in weakness, help in difficulties, comfort in sorrows, and have made endurable long and weary hours of suffering.  It makes the heart sink to think of that perdition which sweeps men away from all that is bright and cheery, and leaves them no prospect to the future but what has been graphically described as the blackness of darkness forever.  How infinitely precious the salvation that delivers men from such a dark and terrible doom!



     One legitimate FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] cuts through all the other FOMOs of life: the fear of eternally missing out.  God’s wrath is real.  And apart from Christ, there is only eternal destruction.  The wealthy man in Jesus’s parable [of the Rich Man and Lazarus; Lk. 16:19ff] is a portrait of life’s greatest tragedy – a man filling his pockets, his belly, and his life with vain pleasures.  He bought Satan’s old lie to Eve, choosing the foolish path of God-ignoring self-sufficiency, and never embraced God as his greatest treasure.  He deadened the reality of judgment with the Novocain of self-indulgence, and by it he destroyed himself eternally.

In this condition of unbelief, the rich man faced the agony of the one most dreaded missing out, an eternal missing out, a weeping-and-gnashing-of-teeth missing out.  ‘Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it’ (Heb. 4:1).  The fear of missing out on eternal life is the one FOMO worth losing sleep over – for ourselves, our friends, our family members, and our neighbors.

But if you are in Christ, the sting of missing out is eternally removed.  FOMO-plagued sinners embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he promises us no eternal loss.  All that we lose will be found in him.  All that we miss will be summed up in him.  Eternity will make up for every other pinch and loss that we suffer in this momentary life.  The doctrine of heaven proves it.  The new creation is the restoration of everything broken by sin in this life; the reparation of everything we lose in this world; the reimbursement of everything we miss out on in our social-media feeds.

Lazarus learned this blessed truth: heaven is God’s eternal response to all of the FOMOs of this life.  Heaven will restore every ‘missing out’ thousands of times over throughout all of eternity.  Therefore, the motto over the allurement of the digital age is set in the slightly altered words of the apostle Paul: I count every real deprivation in my life – and every feared deprivation in my imagination – as no expense in light of never missing out on the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for all eternity.

Tony Reinke, Twelve Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 160-61.


The Justice of Hell

In my sermon yesterday on Deuteronomy 25 I mentioned how hell (the eternal conscious suffering of all those who have not been united to Christ by faith) is perfectly just; that is, the punishment is in proportion to the offense.

This is a hard topic and there is much that could be said on it.  Here are just three concepts that have helped me understand how eternity is not excessive.

(1) There is a gradation of punishment in hell based upon the level of one’s rejection of God.  Jesus said to those who heard him and rejected him, “I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you” (Mt. 11:24).  Will the person who never heard the gospel be condemned to hell for eternity?  Yes, because they suppressed the knowledge of God that they did have from general revelation (cf. Rom. 1:18ff).  But it there will be a more severe judgment for those who had greater light and exposure to the gospel.  God will be fair.

(2) Punishment is proportionate to the magnitude of the One sinned against.  Sin against an infinite God deserves an infinite punishment that can never be repaid by a mere human.  After preaching I came home to find that my dog had gotten sick and soiled my $100 rug from Target.  It reminded me of this illustration from Jerry Bridges:

Suppose you want a new rug to cover the wooden floor in your living room.  Being of modest means, you go [to] the local discount store and pay three hundred dollars for a rug.  I come into your house with a bottle of black indelible ink and spill that ink on your rug.  I have just ruined your three-hundred-dollar rug.  But suppose you are a wealthy person and you pay thirty thousand dollars for an expensive Persian rug.  If I spill ink on that rug, it is an entirely different matter.  Why is that true?  It is the same act on my part.  In both instances, I have spilled black indelible ink on a rug.  The difference, of course, lies in the value of the rug.

God’s holiness is infinite.  We don’t just have accidental spills, we have spite.  When we think that eternal hell is overkill, we reveal the littleness which we view God’s glory.

(3) People in hell never stop sinning.  Not only is our debt infinite and unable to ever be repaid by us, but those in hell continue to add sin to sin.  Jesus describes hell as a place where there is “gnashing of teeth” (i.e. Mt. 8:12).  That is not an indication of people’s pain.  It reveals people’s hearts.  Gnashing of teeth in the Bible indicates a deep hatred, anger, and resentment (cf. Job 16:9; Pss. 35:16, 37:12, 112:10; Lam. 2:16; Acts 7:54).  Nobody is repentant or regenerated in hell.  They continue to bristle at God’s authority.


The time of salvation is now.  Praise God for the infinitely valuable Christ and his sufficient sacrifice!  Let’s spread the news…


Everyone Gets What They Want

While I was looking for another quote I stumbled upon this highlighted in my copy of J.I. Packer’s Knowing Christianity (Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1995), 202:

For pagans as for Christians, the day of judgment will mean deeper entry into the life they prefer – in their case, life without God, which has all along been their heart’s real desire, even when they cloaked it with a form of religion.


Why I Am A Baptist

While some are less than helpful, there are some really insightful testimonies in Why I Am A Baptist, edited by Tom Nettles and Russell Moore (Nashville: B&H, 2001).

In Don Whitney’s essay he quotes from William Cathcart’s Baptist Encyclopedia (1881; emphasis mine):

The Baptists of this country hold that the Word of God is the only authority in religion, that its teachings are to be sacredly observed, and that to religious doctrines and observances there can be no additions except from it; they hold that a man should repent and be saved through faith in the meritorious Redeemer before he is baptized; that immersion alone is Scripture baptism; that only by it can the candidate represent his death to the world, burial with Christ, and resurrection to newness of life; that baptism is a prerequisite to the Lord’s Supper; they hold the doctrines of the Trinity, of eternal and personal election, total depravity, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, progressive sanctification, final perseverance a special providence, immediate and eternal glory for the righteous after death, and instant and unending misery for the ungodly. They hold the doctrinal articles of the Presbyterian Church, and they only differ from that honored Calvinistical community in the mode and subjects of baptism, and in their congregational church government.

Such uniformity could not be claimed today, but that this was case during the founding of our denomination is a major reason why I am a Baptist.



In my preparation for preaching this week on Matthew 25:31-46 I read this helpful paragraph from D.A. Carson, Matthew, Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 523:

The final separation of ‘sheep’ and ‘goats’ is a recurring theme in the NT, including Matthew (e.g., 7:21-23; 13:40-43). Some have argued that this doctrine has turned many people into infidels; but so have other Christian doctrines. The question is not how men respond to a doctrine but what Jesus and the NT writers actually teach about it. Human response is a secondary consideration and may reveal as much about us as about the doctrine being rejected. Nevertheless two things should be kept in mind: (1) as there are degrees of felicity and responsibility in the consummated kingdom (e.g., 25:14-30; cf. 1 Cor 3:10-15), so also are there degrees of punishment (e.g., Matt 11:22; Luke 12:47-48); and (2) there is no shred of evidence in the NT that hell ever brings about genuine repentance. Sin continues as part of the punishment and the ground for it.