For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
The most common argument people make against the idea of hell is that God is just too loving. How could a God of love inflict such cruel punishment on people simply because they have not believed in the right things?
Yesterday we examined a major flaw in this argument: the assumption that God is as tolerant of sin as we are. Make no mistake–God is different than we are, and He cannot tolerate sin.
A second flaw in the argument that God is too loving to send people to hell is the assumption that people really are not that bad. There have been a lot of surveys that have indicated that many people believe there is a hell, but it exists only for people like Adolph Hitler or Charles Manson or Saddam Hussein. “Thankfully, we are not that bad,” they say. “We do not deserve that kind of punishment.”
Just as we downplay God’s holiness, we also downplay our sinfulness. We tend to assign degrees to sinfulness, but to a holy God, the differences in human behavior are negligible. Let me illustrate it this way: There is a great distance between the North Pole and the South Pole, right? But that distance is relative when you consider the distance between the Earth and the sun, ninety-three million miles away. It is the same way with human beings. We think that there is this great chasm between a Charles Manson and a Mother Teresa, but God does not see that wide of a gulf. The difference between Charles Manson and Mother Teresa is negligible when you compare the distance between sinful humans and a holy God.
D. A. Carson had it correct when he said that most people will be in hell by their own choice, not God’s. He said, “Hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes, but they just didn’t believe the right stuff. They’re consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their maker and want to be at the center of the universe. Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isn’t gentle enough or good enough to let them out. It’s filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying rebellion. What is God to do? If he says it doesn’t matter to him, then God is no longer a God to be admired. He’s either amoral or positively creepy. For him to act in any other way in the face of such blatant defiance would be to reduce God himself.” A holy God cannot tolerate our sin.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Answers To Those Who Say, ‘Hell? No!’” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.
D. A. Carson, as quoted in Lee Strobel, “The Case For Faith” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 193.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.