Reflections on the Theological Justification of the Eternality of Hell and the Hideousness of Sin

Both the guilt and eternality of hell as well as the glory and eternality of heaven are seen at the cross of Christ (images courtesy of pixabay.com),

Both the guilt and eternality of hell as well as the glory and eternality of heaven are seen at the cross of Christ (images courtesy of pixabay.com),

In The Valley of Vision (this is by far my favorite devotional book which is a collection of Puritan prayers and thoughts) I was reading this particular section today (entitled “The Precious Blood” pg. 74-75):

“Show me the enormity of my guilt by the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet, the bruised body, the dying cries. Thy blood is the blood of the incarnate God, its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought. Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.”

Here the writer is focusing on the cross and the weight of guilt and punishment that is justly due to sinners as a result of the death of Christ, God incarnate, upon the cross. The most precious and holiest blood ever spilled was done so as the result of humanity’s sin. This devotional, then, has led me to think about the logic of hell from a theological perspective. There are some that attempt to show the logic of hell on a purely philosophical basis, and while I believe that there is merit to this type of argumentation, what I want to focus on in this post is what I’m going to call the “Theological Justification of the Eternality of Hell and the Hideousness of Sin” as well as my brief reflections upon this matter. These reflections are somewhat random and are simply the public wrestling and working out of this idea. Read these thoughts slowly and see if they have biblical merit or not. I am open, as always, to comments and corrections about them in the “Leave a Reply” section below this post.

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  1. The cross displays, at the same time, both beauty and ugliness, both glory and shame, both love and wrath, both justification and condemnation, both good and evil.
  2. When the cross is rightly understood, then the reality of hell will be quickly embraced.
  3. Objections to the eternality of Hell vanish like moths in a bonfire when the meaning of the cross is properly seen and embraced.
  4. One of the reasons that Christ, God incarnate, chose to go to the cross was to show the rightness (justness) of the eternality of Hell.
  5. If Christ had been a mere man dying on the cross, then one could rightly object to the eternality of hell, but since Christ is no mere man, we are misguided in our objection to the eternality of hell.
  6. Sin, in its truest and ugliest form (in both truth and in substance), loses its meaning if we discard the reality of an eternal hell.
  7. While Christ’s sacrifice shows the justness of the reality of hell, it also shows the infinite value of heaven. Since Christ has died to redeem a people unto Himself, then how great, indeed, is their eternal dwelling place? To put it plainly, Christ’s blood will not be spilled for a line of shacks in heaven. Conversely, hell will not be a place of infinite, grand partying in perpetual comfort and delight for this would downgrade sin and devalue Christ’s sacrifice.
  8. Christ’s sacrifice shows both the value (?) of hell and the value of heaven, all at once.
  9. Christ’s sacrifice reveals both the just condemnation of the sinner and the glorious justification of the saint, in Christ, simultaneously.

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I want to show you how many Puritans saw their sin and how Hell was justified in their sight. Imagine if we could grasp our sin as they do in the following passage from The Valley of Vision (“The Precious Blood” pg. 75):

“Sin is my malady, my monster, my foe, my viper, born in my birth, alive in my life, strong in my character, dominating my faculties, following me as a shadow, intermingling with my every thought, [sin is] my chain that holds me captive in the empire of my soul. Sinner that I am, why should the sun give me light, the air supply breath, the earth bear my tread, its fruits nourish me, its creatures subserve my ends?”

This is a healthy view of sin and this healthy view of sin is one of the great keys to the Christian life. If we do not grasp sin, then we will not fully grasp, and delight in, God’s mercy and forgiveness shown towards us on the cross. Immediately following the passage above, the Puritan continues, but this time he is focusing on God’s love and mercy:

“Yet Thy compassions yearn over me, Thy heart hastens to my rescue, Thy love endured my curse, Thy mercy bore my deserved stripes.”

How is it that God Almighty, who is Holy to the infinite degree, could be kind and compassionate enough to even look my way with love? Click To Tweet

How is it that God Almighty, who is Holy to the infinite degree, could be kind and compassionate enough to even look my way with love? Given that I am “ate up” with sin, why would God allow the sun to shine on me or the earth to “bear my tread”? Why wouldn’t God, instead of letting the sun to shine happily down on me, be just in allowing the sun to burn me (us!) to a crisp? Why wouldn’t God, being just as He is, instead of allowing me to walk on the earth, cause the earth to swallow me whole?  I breathe and walk due solely to the mercy of God and so does every other sinner on the planet. We should not be shocked tsunamis or earthquakes in the world, but we should, instead, be shocked that tsunamis and earthquakes don’t overwhelm the entire lot of humanity, given the depth of our sinfulness.  It is upon this basis (a proper understanding of sin) that God’s love and mercy can be properly, fully, and delightfully grasped, and it is upon this basis that the eternality of hell can be rightly grasped and accepted.

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