Big Idea: Hell is a hard doctrine to accept. Yet hell is logically necessary for a God who created eternal beings, with choice, and for God who desires to limit evil and for good to be the final reality. We need to allow the reality of hell to compel us to urgent action, either being reconciled to God or helping others with missional urgency.
I. The limits of creation
A. Eternal or not
B. We make real choices or we don’t.
C. Evil will be limited or not.
D. Someone or something will be the final reality or not.
II. How can a loving God make people suffer eternal conscious punishment?
Definition: Hell is a place where God allows eternally free creatures to perpetually reject his offer of love,
wherein he limits evil so that other eternally free creatures can enjoy the perfection of his plan and
A. Hell is made necessary because of these 4 commitments:
1. A loving God would create eternal beings in his image.
2. A loving God could create beings capable of reciprocating love.
3. A loving God could limit evil.
4. A loving God could allow good to win over evil.
B. Hell is logically necessary given these four commitments.
Hell is the most loving response God could make given these commitments in creation.
III. How does believing in hell change our reality?
A. We need to start acting like hell is real.
B. Your will is a dangerous thing. Give it to Christ.
C. We need to share our faith like hell is real.
1) Growing up did you hear hell talked about in a spiritual context? Was hell talked about as if it were real?
2) On a scale of one to ten (one being irrelevant and ten being a dominant reality), how significant has the idea of eternal conscious punishment been to you?
3) Do you know friends or family for whom this question/topic has been a struggle? If so, how have they expressed their difficulty with this doctrine? Have you struggled with this doctrine?
4) Have you seen the doctrine of hell used to manipulate people emotionally? If so, give examples.
5) How much fear of the Lord is good? Consider our current culture on a continuum – with flippancy on one end, and fearful and somber reverence on the other. Where are we now? What is the trajectory? Where should we be?
6) How much does the notion of someone suffering eternal conscious suffering impact your witness? Does this produce a guilt response? If so is that good guilt or toxic guilt? Is this conviction or condemnation?
Consult these passages to help you tell the difference: II Corinthians 7:9-10, Romans 8:1.
7) How sure are you about your relationship with Christ? Do you need to respond to God’s offer for reconciliation? Are you ready to do that? If not, what is holding you back?
8) Who should you talk to about this? Who should you be praying for?