Debates have raged over the last few decades about disciplining children. Do you spank? Do you send them to timeout? Do you not do anything out of fear of squashing their self-esteem or scaring them for life?
The idea is ultimately about justice and mercy. What would be the reason we fail to discipline our children? Too painful for us to administer the discipline and be the result of their angst? Too lazy to set up boundaries? Just overlook it, praying they’ll ‘get it’ one day?
The same issue comes about with the doctrine of hell. Why would God send someone to hell? Why can’t he just forgive it and overlook it? How could a loving parent ever do that to a child they created? Is this God only appeased with eternal torment and suffering? A God who is loving would never get angry—but should be forgiving and accepting!
J.C. Ryle once said:
The same Bible which teaches that God in mercy and compassion sent Christ to die for sinners, does also teach that God hates sin, and must from His very nature punish all who cleave to sin or refuse the salvation He has provided. God knows that I never speak of hell without pain and sorrow. I would gladly offer the salvation of the Gospel to the very chief of sinners. I would willingly say to the vilest and most profligate of mankind on his deathbed, “Repent, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be save.” But God\ forbid that I should ever keep back from mortal man that scripture reveals a hell as well as heaven…that men may be lost as well as saved.
Last week, we spent the entire service on the subject of heaven. But did you realize that Jesus spoke on hell more than heaven? It’s not even close! To our American culture, hell is offensive—it’s unaccepting, intolerant, and abusive. But yet, the Scripture (and even Jesus himself an extraordinary amount of times) spoke on this. How can a loving God do such a thing?
We shall see is that hell exists for those who wish to spend their eternity like they did their earthly life—for themselves and free from God’s influence. And they get what they ask for. And we pray for those who are on that path that God would bring them from the wide road to the narrow road.
1. No one goes to hell who wish to see and serve Jesus (John 12:20-26).
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks.21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” I remember growing up in my home church in Beverly Hills, Florida (no, not California—Florida). I went up on the platform and stood behind the pulpit one time, and I saw this sign at the top of the podium: “We would see Jesus” (the KJV translation). That always stuck with me. That pastor preached so that he and all who listened would see Jesus.
That’s what happened to these Greeks. They came to worship at the Temple—although they could not worship with the Jews, for a wall separated Greek/Gentile worshipers from the Jewish worshipers. That week at Passover (as we see in Mark 11), Jesus cleansed the Temple due to some of the selfish practices of the Jewish leaders.
They came to Philip (who may have been from the same area as these men) who wished to see Jesus. They wanted an audience with this man. So, Philip told Andrew, who both in turn went to Jesus.
Don’t you love Andrew? Every time we see him, he’s telling someone about Jesus. In John 1, after he heard Jesus, he went and retrieved his brother Peter and “brought him to Jesus” (1:42).
Jesus answered them in such a way as to show that a new phase of his ministry and the ministry toward the entire world was taking place. He was to be glorified—but he could only be glorified if he died. The same could be said of us!
Hell is populated with people who wanted to keep this life more than to claim the next. They wanted to live now rather than die now so they could live later.
Jesus actually looked at the Gentiles and showed them that they could approach a holy God with confidence—seeing and serving Jesus leads to a surrender to Jesus. Whereas the Temple had a wall that separated them, Jesus breaks down that wall. The apostle Paul put it aptly:
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.
Christ took the Gentiles who were divided, removed, and far off and brought them near. Jew and Gentile are one—meaning that if they hold on to Christ, they are one.