A Grave Consideration of Hell
Sermon Series: The Affectionate Gospel
Sermon Title: A Grave Consideration of Hell: How an All-Loving God Will Send People There, and the Depths He Went to Keep People Out
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Although often comically portrayed, hell from a biblical perspective is a place of eternal, constant torment for those who reject God’s goodness in Christ. In today’s passage, the apostle Paul brings encouragement to the persecuted Thessalonian church as they experience the evils of this world while waiting for Jesus’ return. He expounds on the nature of hell, who will be sent there, and how God through Christ made a way to spare people from this horrific, eternal destination.
Point 1: The Nature of Hell
According to Paul, hell is a place of affliction (v. 6), God’s vengeance (v. 8), punishment, eternal destruction, and separation from the Lord (v. 9). Three orthodox viewpoints on hell include Traditional-Literal, Metaphorical, and Conditional Annihilation. Jesus speaks often of hell, warning people of impending eternal destruction (Mt. 25:46) and conscious torment where there is regret described as weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 13:42)and where worm does not die and fire is not quenched (Mark 9:48). Non-existence is better than existence in hell (Mt. 26:24). Lastly, hell is separation from God in which the ungodly, removed from God’s light, suffer in utter darkness (Mt. 8:11-12; Jude 1:13). Hell is a door locked both from the inside by unrepentance (Rev. 16:8-11) and the outside by a just God (Luke 13:24-27) with no way out for an endless age.
Point 2: Who is Headed to Hell
The apostle Paul notes that those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of Jesus are destined to hell (v. 8).
“So let’s get something straight: Just about everyone—even non-Christians—thinks that those who commit certain evils should be punished. Thus when it comes to Hell, we are talking
only about a matter of degree—how much punishment is enough—not whether there should be punishment at all.” Clay Jones
Point 3: How an All-Loving, All Just God Can Send People to Hell
Any amount of sin cascades into an avalanche of sin, and its gravity is lost on mankind (not unlike the rich young ruler from Luke 18:18-23). In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus raises the standard of good, showing us that everyone deserves hell (Mt. 5). All evil requires eternal punishment, for it is sin against a just and eternal God. Additionally, this justice served by God (Rom. 12:19-20) provides comfort to the afflicted (v. 6). Gratefully, God provides rescue from our sin and resulting eternal damnation through Jesus. He bore the penalty of our wrongdoing, the ultimate act of love.
Whether literal or metaphorical, hell is a terrible place in which unrepentant souls experience eternal suffering and separation from God. Knowing God and the gospel of Jesus is the only way to avoid everlasting punishment for sin.